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High Country Local First Debuting “Local First!” Rewards Card June 1 at Art Crawl and Boone Businesses

By Ethan Woodhouse

May 28, 2012. Area non-profit High Country Local First will be increasing their efforts in driving area consumers to shop at independent local businesses this summer through their new, “Local First!” Rewards Card.

The card will be available for purchase at Art Mart on Boone Heights Drive and Stick Boy Bread Company on Hardin Street beginning June 1. HCLF will also be selling the cards during Art Crawl on the same day, in front of the Law Firm of di Santi, Watson, Capua & Wilson on King Street. The card will be valid through June 1, 2013.

Local businesses like Lucky Penny and Gladiola Girls are among the 30 businesses offering discounts for using the card, High Country Local First Director Mary Scott said. Some businesses off of the mountain, like the Blue Ridge Learning Centers in Todd and Leatherwood Mountain resort in Ferguson also plan on offering discounts.

 The standard discount is 10 percent off, but Scott has encouraged businesses to “get creative” in their deal-making. 

“We’re looking for a wide range of businesses to utilize the card,” Scott said. “We want to find ways to appeal to customers that won’t hurt the business owner financially but will also benefits the customers.”

Participating businesses may determine the perks of card usage at their discretion.

The card will retail for $20 beginning June 1. Parent Teacher Organizations within the Watauga County School System will receive $5 of each sale. Another $5 will support a robust Farm-to-School grant program to improve the health of our community’s young people and develop sustainable local agriculture in the school system. The remaining $10 will benefit HCLF’s efforts to strengthen local economy and build a distinctive market for local, independent businesses.

Building awareness about the benefits of supporting local, independently businesses and organizations is the cornerstone of HCLF’s mission. Efforts similar to the “Local First!” card have seen success in making various local businesses increasingly popular destination points.

The Asheville Grown Business Alliance’s “Go Local” card is one example. Scott says AGBA offered plenty of guidance in the development of their “Local First!” card.

“Our model is based loosely on theirs,” Scott said. “They also offer a portion of proceeds to local school systems. They’ve seen a great response down in Asheville, they currently have 135 business offers on their cards.”

 Scott says they are still pursuing businesses to participate in “Go Local!”, and interested owners can apply through their website, www.highcountrylocalfirst.org. Individuals interested in purchased the card can do so at the website as well.