TEHACHAPI, Calif. — Earlier this month, we brought you the story of the Small Business Loyalty Program in Tehachapi, it was a way for the city to encourage the community to shop locally when small businesses need it the most, now that the program has ended, the city says it was way more successful than anyone had planned.

This program had a great turnout in just the three weeks that it was in place, the city originally thought this may bring in $20,000-25,000, they were surprised when this program brought in nearly $60,000 for their local small businesses.

“I was just hoping to get through that first allotment and be a success, but we far exceeded that, that’s for sure.”

Expectations were met, and then some, according to Corey Costelloe, the economic development coordinator for Tehachapi.

As a way to get people to shop locally, the city was originally granted $1,000 where they purchased five $20 gift cards from 10 local restaurants, but as the weeks went on, the program became more popular, so the city was able to purchase more gift cards, bringing the total to 223.

“We had invested $3,000 in, we got a $1,000 donation from a local realtor. We had a couple of private donations as well, even restaurants were stepping up and donating.”

During the first week, Costelloe says 31 people redeemed receipts for gift cards, with the average receipt totaling more than $170, making total purchases more than $5,300.

During week two, receipt amounts more than doubled, totaling over $11,400, with 77 customers claiming gift cards. During week three that amount more than tripled, with nearly $37,000 worth of receipts, allowing the city to give away the remainder of the gift cards.

“It ended right around the time of the one year anniversary of us first getting COVID restrictions for businesses so to really have it 12 months later being in the middle of a successful sort of stimulus recovery program, I’m very proud to be part of that and for the community to be rallying behind this.”

Since this had such a great response Costelloe says they’re working on different ways they can incorporate a program like this in the future.

“We always have some sort of campaign around the holidays for shopping local and shopping small so we might be able to potentially work this into a holiday shopping so we will see if that’s something that’s doable or in the next year’s budget.”

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