The Souris and Glenwood Chamber of Commerce is hosting a spectacular edition of the Red Card campaign to help ring in a holly jolly Christmas.
Chamber president Loretta Turner said the 2021 edition of the Red Card campaign is the biggest initiative taken on by the organization to date.
At the heart of the campaign is supporting local shops and consumers.
“We’ve put money right back into our members’ hands trying to stimulate our local economy,” Turner said.
The Red Card campaign was made possible through grants provided by the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce and Community Futures Westman. The funds have been exclusively used for the enhancement of the initiative.
From Dec. 1 to Dec. 24, the chamber will make daily draws of $200 in Souris Bucks, a chamber currency, or gift cards for local area businesses.
To participate in the campaign, shoppers can visit a local business to receive a red card that can be filled with stamps. For every purchase made, participants will receive a stamp on their card. Once the card is full, they can fill out their full name and contact information on the back to enter the draw.
“It’s as simple as shopping local ... in two hours, you can literally fill a full card just by going to four different places,” Turner said. “It’s literally shopping local, get a stamp and enter the draw. If you can fill 10 cards, fill 10 cards.”
The filled-out cards can be dropped outside the post office.
The chamber held draws on Dec. 3 and 10, and has another planned for Dec. 17. Names of winners are pulled for each day of the week. Each draw will be held live on the chamber’s Facebook page at 12:30 p.m. The chamber will host a grand prize draw for $1,000 Souris Bucks on Dec. 24.
Turner said it was neat hosting the first draw on Dec. 3, because each prize had eight gift cards from local businesses. She added it was amazing being able to support winners and businesses at the same time.
She noted in previous years, the grand prize was $1,000 in Souris Bucks spread out over four draws for different amounts.
“We just really enhanced it and amped it up to try and entice more people to shop and enter,” Turner said.
The grants secured for the Red Card campaign have also allowed for increased advertising to try to connect with shoppers from across Westman, inviting them to come and participate.
It remains critical to support local shops, Turner said, because businesses are continually giving back to the local community through donations to youth sports, the arts council, food banks and other avenues, while also creating jobs in the area.
“You’re supporting local here in Souris, and then you can open it up to supporting local here in Westman, and also in Manitoba,” Turner said. “We’re seeing a lot more push … to source things out locally.”
Turner estimated that for every dollar spent locally, around 80 cents is returned directly back into the community.
Local businesses are continuing to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, she added. The global health crisis crippled the local economy, Turner said, citing how in 2020 many businesses were unable to sell their wares directly in-person to customers because only essential items were allowed for purchase at the height of the pandemic in December 2020.
“The majority of our businesses in town, we have a lot of specialty businesses, they were only open to online and curbside delivery last year.”
She considers Souris lucky because the town did not lose any businesses during the challenging economic tribulations, largely due to the support shown by local shoppers — both from Souris and Westman.
The festive feeling is building. On Dec. 4, Souris held its Santa Claus parade under COVID-19 public health measures. It looked different compared to a typical year, Turner said, but she appreciates they were able to host some kind of event in Souris.
“The morale of the town has been boosted by having that.”
The town will host fireworks on Dec. 18, and they are also looking to organize an afternoon family fun day, based on public health restrictions.
Anastasia Muir, owner of Anastasia’s Serenity and Wellness, hopes the Red Card campaign serves as a way to support locals who have been supporting local businesses throughout the pandemic.
“This year, we’ve been able to really amplify it. We’re [giving] about $5,600 in value towards the community,” Muir said. “The prizes are amazing.”
She added it is especially exciting because the town was unable to host the Red Card campaign last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. They pivoted to host Christmas in July, where they encouraged people to visit Souris for a summer version of the campaign.
Muir hopes those who are inspired to visit the town during Christmas will come back and explore the different activities available in Souris.
“If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that Souris has a lot to provide without having to come to Brandon,” Muir said. “We’re just trying to support those who are supporting us.”
» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp
Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun