The hard truth? Recent forecasts predict one in six Ventura retailers, and one out of two Ventura restaurants, won’t make it through the pandemic. But forecasts aren’t written in stone. And difficulties can be overcome. Ventura knows this firsthand. After the Thomas Fire in December of 2017, locals helped locals literally emerge from the ashes.
Now the COVID pandemic presents a longer-term challenge to overcome.
Visit Ventura created “Shop Ventura, Save Ventura” to do exactly that.
“As COVID continues to stretch on, so many businesses are fighting for survival,” says Visit Ventura President Marlyss Auster. ““We’ve always worked to support our community and do the next right thing. So we asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to turn the pessimistic forecasts around?’ And so, the birth of ‘Shop Ventura, Save Ventura.’”
It’s a straightforward name for a straightforward cause. Via social media, newsletters, posters in storefront windows, and good old fashioned (and effective) word of mouth, Visit Ventura is asking locals to shop at Ventura stores when they can. To eat at Ventura restaurants, or get take out, when they can. To use their own hard-earned dollars to help their hard-working local businesses.
“According to Totally Local Ventura County, for every $100 someone spends at a local retail business, an average of $68 returns to the local economy, versus $43 if they spend at, say, a national chain,” says Auster. “If everyone shifts their spending just 10% toward local, it can make a huge difference.”
For the Holidays, Visit Ventura is adding a creative twist to help local businesses through the pandemic. Now in its fifth year, Visit Ventura’s successful Elf Giveaway program will also give local businesses a financial shot in the arm. The program, which features a real Elf (why not believe?), offers Visit Ventura’s social media followers the chance to win prizes (each prize comes in twos; one for you, one for a friend) from local businesses every day through December and right up to Christmas. Prizes range from small to large, leading up to a five Grand Prizes given away just before Christmas Day. This year’s Grand Prizes include a trip for two to the Channel Islands, a guided kayak tour on Santa Cruz Island, a longboard hand shaped by the legendary Steve Walden of Walden Surfboards, and a hotel stay (for two) at the Ventura Beach Marriott and the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach.
The machinations of the program aren’t as important as the effect. Visit Ventura has some 200,000 followers; the Elf Giveaway brings local businesses center stage. In years past, among other boosts, Ventura businesses have gained an average of 200 followers by participating in the program.
“In any year, Visit Ventura’s Elf Giveaway has always been a great way for smaller Ventura businesses to boost their business in a competitive shopping season,” says Auster. “And the Elf also gives everyone a boost of joy. Now, with COVID, both those boosts are critical.”