Island merchants offer appealing rewards to entice holiday shoppers
Holiday shoppers stroll Vineyard Haven's festive Main Street. Some of them may hold the winning tickets in Tisbury's first holiday giveaway. Photos by Ralph Stewart
Buying gifts on Island this holiday season can pay off for shoppers, thanks to some creative sweepstakes programs offered by merchants in Tisbury, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs.
More than 20 Vineyard Haven businesses are participating in the first-ever "Tisbury Holiday Giveaway," sponsored by the Tisbury Business Association (TBA). Since Thanksgiving, shoppers receive one sweepstakes ticket for every $25 they spend at one of the participating stores.
On December 23 at 2 pm, a drawing will take place at LeRoux at Home on Main Street in Vineyard Haven to award cash prizes of $1,000, $500, $300, and $200 to the lucky owners of the first, second, third, and fourth ticket stubs drawn. The merchant who gives away the first prize ticket will be rewarded, as well, with a $150 cash prize.
Winners must present their ticket stubs to claim their prizes but do not have to be present at the drawing. The winning ticket numbers will be advertised in the newspapers and on WMVY radio station, and posted on the TBA web site and in every participating store. Ticket holders can call any store where they received a ticket to find out if they won, as well. If any prizes are unclaimed after two weeks, the TBA will donate some of the money to local charities and put the rest in a fund for business-related activities in Tisbury.
This spectacular array of prizes awaits the lucky winner of the "Santa Sweepstakes" in Oak Bluffs, in a drawing to take place on Dec. 22 at the Atlantic Connection.
"The program has gotten a lot of momentum," said April Levandowski, who owns LeRoux at Home with her husband Michael. "We're having fun. It is definitely generating some excitement for the businesses, and providing a reward for customers who are shopping locally."
She came up with the idea as part of a group effort by Main Street merchants to liven up downtown Vineyard Haven with some seasonal activities. Offering to organize a holiday giveaway promotion, Ms. Levandowski made calls to get tips from Nantucket retailers who have sponsored a sweepstakes program for 15 years that gives away $15,000.
In Tisbury's sweepstakes program, participating businesses buy tickets, which funds the prizes. Once they have purchased 2,000 tickets, they can purchase more at a discount up until December 22. Ms. Levandowski will label and store leftover tickets from the retailers to start them out next year.
"We decided to start out small, and give away $2,000," she said. "We thought cash was best. It is something everyone can use." If the sweepstakes program goes well, Ms. Levandowski said, the TBA may offer additional prizes.
The promotion is definitely helping sales, Ms. Levandowski said, with customers adding a last item or two at the cash register to push the total up so they qualify for another ticket. She added that many Tisbury merchants have thanked her for her hard work and offered good ideas for next year. "It is great to have positive input to help shape this into an event people will look forward to," she said.
This year also marks the first annual "Christmas in Edgartown" raffle. Since Thanksgiving, for every $20 spent at one of 30 participating Edgartown businesses, shoppers receive one raffle ticket. The grand prize is a $1,000 American Express gift card, plus gift certificates and other prizes donated by the merchants. Second prize is a $500 American Express gift card and third prize a $250 American Express gift card.
The drawing for the winning tickets will be held on Tuesday, December 20 at 5:30 pm at the Christina Gallery at 32 North Water Street during an open house from 4 to 6 pm. Winners do not have to be present for the drawing.
Christina Cook, gallery owner and secretary of the Edgartown Board of Trade, said the raffle is part of the business group's effort to expand the town's Christmas in Edgartown events that took place last weekend. "We hope to up the ante next year for raffle prizes," said Ms. Cook. "We already are planning for next year, because it will be the 25th anniversary of 'Christmas in Edgartown.'"
Although Edgartown and Tisbury are new to the giveaway game, the "Santa Sweepstakes" sponsored by the Oak Bluffs Association (OBA) is now in its fourth year, co-chaired by Ron D'Orio, owner of Craftworks, and Judy Hartford, owner of Vineyard Lights. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, customers receive a raffle ticket with any purchase from participating businesses, with no minimum amount required.
In addition to paying a fee for advertising and promotion, businesses donated an item valued at a minimum of $100. One lucky winner will walk away with a grand total of close to $3,000 in merchandise, now tantalizingly displayed in a storefront window next to Sun Porch Books on Circuit Avenue. A few runner-up prizes will be awarded, as well.
"Everybody loves it. It's a really exciting kind of thing, because people can see the prizes in the window," said Renee Balter, OBA's executive director and owner of the Titticut Follies guesthouse. "The retailers all wanted to give something that shows off their store or business."
The drawing will take place around 7:30 pm during a holiday gala celebration on December 22 at the Atlantic Connection that runs from 6 to 8 pm. "Each time we're had somebody local win. The winner does not have to be at the drawing and will be contacted," said Ms. Balter.
Although none of the sweepstakes organizers were aware of similar promotions in their neighboring towns, Ms. Levandowski suggested, "Maybe in the future, we should tie in the towns together, so that we could offer bigger prizes."