Over the past 10 years the City of Port Alberni has invested approximately $1 million in initiatives to support the small business community here. This investment has leveraged an additional $2 million from many terrific partners in our work to establish the conditions that enable small businesses to flourish. One of those partners is the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce (AVCOC) who have always managed to deliver a ‘bigger bang for the buck’.

Pat Deakin

In 2012, the Chamber’s new CEO initiated a continuous improvement process to our ‘Shop Local’ campaign to increase awareness of the range of consumer products and services available in Port Alberni, educate the community about the many benefits of buying locally, and make residents feel good about their decision to stay at home and shop local.

The campaign has evolved from a year-round sign urging people to ‘Shop Local’ to a ‘Try Home First’ initiative focused on the biggest retail season. It has also moved from a ‘claim it later’ reward to an immediate ‘thank you’ gift certificate for some shoppers and a grand prize draw. As the campaign has grown more successful, it has strained the capacity of the Chamber to deliver it themselves. In 2019 the City’s #explorePortAlberni social media team met with the Chamber to identify ways of supporting this initiative and #PurchasedInPA was born with the tag line of ‘Don’t Buy from Strangers’. The holiday season campaign was a huge success.

Sixty-seven $25 gift certificates were given out to folks who were surprised in participating stores by two Chamber ‘elves‘. As December progressed, four shoppers won weekly prizes totaling $1,700 in gift certificates and including swag from #explorePortAlberni or the Chamber and recreation passes from the City. On January 17th three grand prizes worth a total of $5,000 in local gift certificates will be awarded live on our radio station 93.3 The PEAK.

What is perhaps most remarkable about all of this is that the draw will be made from approximately 20,000 entries that were deposited with participating merchants!

Our budget for the campaign came to $13,775 with $6,700 of that coming from the business community in $100 gift certificates; $3,900 coming from the City in a combination of cash and in-kind services and $3,175 coming from the Chamber in a combination of cash and in-kind services. It’s been a great start to the year.

 Pat Deakin is the Economic Development Manager for the City of Port Alberni. He can be reached at 250-720-2527 or Patrick_deakin@portalberni.ca