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Heart of the Valley Chamber pumps $61,875 into local small businesses in less than 15 minutes

Andrew Hanlon, Nicci Sprangers

Community members were invited to show their support for the local small business community by participating in the Heart of the Valley Chamber’s Gift Card Extravaganza. 

The promotion kicked off on Tuesday, June 23rd at 9 a.m. and allowed community members to purchase $50 gift cards from participating businesses and as a bonus, purchasers would receive an additional free $25 gift card to the same business compliments of the chamber. 

Within 11 minutes of going live with the promotion, the gift cards were sold out and $61,875 was infused into the small business community. Forty-four local small businesses participated in the promotion and over 825 $50 gift cards were purchased. 

The $25 gift cards were offered as both an incentive to rally the community and as a thank you for support of the local businesses that were most affected by the Safer at Home shutdown.

“We are thrilled and blown away by the overwhelming support from our community,” said Nicci Sprangers, Executive Director. “We believed that people were still anxious to show their support for local businesses and this promotion was a fun way to put small businesses in the spotlight. It was a unique way to infuse some additional revenue for our members as well as a way to thank everyone who participated. 

“The goal of the promotion was to assist our small business members in retail, restaurant and service industries that have been most affected by this pandemic. This is our way to help generate sales and revenue for our local business community and our members,” said Diane Stuckrath, Director of Business Development. 

Funds to help support this effort were contributed by Heart of the Valley Chamber members who wanted to show their commitment and support for their neighboring small businesses. Sponsors included: Kaukauna Utilities, UA Local 400, Bank of Kaukauna, Abel insurance, City of Kaukauna, BLC Community Bank, Epiphany Law, Fox Valley Tool and Die, Speedy Clean, Unison Credit Union, Team Industries, Midwest Workwear, Times-Villager and Kaukauna Youth Baseball. 

“Without those sponsors saying we want to put stuff into this, this wouldn’t have been as big of an impact,” Sprangers said.

She described experiencing the rush of the fast-paced sell-out, receiving emails at a ridiculous pace as the gift cards flew off the “shelves.”

“It started with ‘ding’ people know about this, ‘ding’ great it’s happening, ‘ding, ding, ding, ding.’ It never stopped,” she said.

Sprangers said the chamber put a two-week window on the deal and expected the gift cards to sell out in maybe three or four days. It was hard to tell how many people truly knew about the extravaganza – the chamber used social media to announce the event about 10 days prior, and posts were made each day until everything began. The chamber tagged every business and sponsor participating in the event.

“We were just floored by having to refresh our browser to keep an eye on the total,” Sprangers said. “It was refreshing once and it was $600, refreshing it a second time and it was $1,200, refreshing it and it was $6,000. Really by like the fifth refresh (it was over).

“We were beside ourselves with the volume, the response from the community.

“It was a flood of emotions all around,” she added. “It happened and it was over in the blink of an eye.”

Sprangers explained that every business in the area was affected by the shutdown, but there was a spectrum of how affected each of them were. Some businesses emerged and looked at neighboring businesses that had to completely close. The ones that were fortunate enough to be able to continue to operate had a level of empathy, a desire to help their neighbors, she said.

“We’re fortunate to have such a tight-knit community where our business owners know each other. We have pride in our community, the success, the good fortune of our neighboring businesses,” she said.

“It’s heartwarming.”