For decades chambers of commerce have extolled the community benefits of shopping locally and created marketing campaigns especially during the holidays to promote it. This year the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce came up with a new promotion called Unwrap Soldotna that has proven to be their most successful holiday campaign ever, according to Michelle Glaves, executive director. 24 Soldotna retailers participated and all the customer had to do is stop by and fill out a card for six weekly $25 dollar gift card give-a-way and be entered for the grand prize of a $1,000 shopping spree at the participating businesses. The campaign started on “Buy local Saturday” following Thanksgiving and concluded on winter solstice and end of the Mayan calendar Friday, December 21st.
“It was a huge success! That we attribute to the residents of Soldotna and Kenai I’d say, we did a lot of marketing in print and radio and it really resonated with folks that spending you money locally really does give back to the community is so many ways and it’s been our recurrent theme this year,” said Glaves. By the second week of Unwrap Soldotna event coordinator January Yaeger already had more entry cards than their brass basket spinner could hold, “It just couldn’t handle all the entries so we got a U-Haul moving box and ended up filling that up as well. We were amazed at the response and had literally thousands of entries,” she said at the open house where chamber board members and visitors gathered for the drawing. After a lot of stirring and mixing of the thousands of entries, Liz Pierren of Kenai’s entry blank was drawn and was excited to head to her local stores with $1,000 worth of Chamber bucks to spend for the holidays.
At the open house the coming year was a topic of conversation and Glaves said she felt that everything was going to be a little bit bigger and a little bit better in 2013. That year will start with the Soldotna Chambers annual awards banquet on January 11th and the traditional Peninsula Winter Games will happen the end of January, “Big huge day for the kids, good time and outdoor fun for the whole family. Hundreds of folks come to town from Anchorage to join in the games and see the ice sculptures that the event has become famous for,” added January. For more information about having an ice sculpture created at your business or tickets for the awards banquet contact the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce at 262-9814 as soon as possible as tickets and sculptures are limited.