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Passport to Christmas does well despite pandemic

In the midst of a pandemic when a lot of businesses were either closed or at limited capacity, Ponoka residents still shopped local, supporting local businesses during the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce’s Passport to Christmas.

A total of $1,278,300 was spent locally by passport users from Nov. 12 to Dec. 26. Of the total, 325 passport shoppers were from out of town (accounting for $97,500) and 3,936 were from in town ($1,180,800).

Those numbers compare to $2.8 million in sales during Passport to Christmas in 2019.

In 2020, 46 local businesses participated, contributing $25 gift cards.

The $1,500 shopping spree draw winner was Susan Prins and the $500 gas card from Ponoka Co-op Oils was won by Lenni Goedhart. Prins can now choose up to three participating merchants to spend her winnings at.

“I think it was fantastic,” said Logan Aitken, store manager of The Brick, Ponoka.

The store stamped so many passports that they ran out of ink twice and eventually resorted to crossing off and signing passports.

The Brick customers tend to hold off their shopping until Passport to Christmas and wait until their Boxing Day and other seasonal sales so they can really stack the benefits, says Aitken.

“I think it helps businesses generate traffic, especially in the downtown core.”

This is Aitken’s second year with The Brick, and he was new to the Passport to Christmas.

“It’s a genius idea; brilliant.”

“The season was actually quite good,” said Jim Tangjerd, co-owner of Tantec Electronics with his wife, Norlyn.

The passports didn’t seem as popular this year, however, as people were likely more concerned about passing paper, he says.

He says it’s “good initiative” and that he doubts if they’ve missed a year since it started.

Carol Dunn at Flowers for You says although she stamped less passports this year, she always participates and has for 21 years.

Sponsored prizes from participating merchants were drawn for 42 lucky winners. See the ad on page 6 congratulating them on their win.