Winter Butte Bucks receives support from both councils
Written by Mark Reaman   
Wednesday, 09 November 2011
 $50 in local Bucks for $40 American

The popular Butte Bucks program will be coming back in December for the sixth year. The Crested Butte town council agreed Monday to contribute $5,000 toward the Chamber of Commerce sponsored program while Mt. Crested Butte will donate $2,500. With a $500 bump from the Chamber, there will be $40,000 in Butte Bucks on sale starting December 1. They must be redeemed by January 15.


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“This is a great early season stimulus,” said Chamber membership director Kristen Van Hoesen.
The donations essentially fund a 20 percent discount for Butte Bucks that must be spent at local participating businesses. Individuals can purchase $50 of Butte Bucks each day for $40. The Bucks are then spent like cash at restaurants and retailers in Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte.
“Through the feedback we have received we have come to understand that the holiday program is the biggest demand,” said Van Hoesen. “It generates a Shop Local effort. This will be the only time we do it in a year. We will focus on the holidays and not do it in the summer anymore.”
Van Hoesen said the chamber would sell a maximum of $50 in Butte Bucks to an individual each day. “That is meant to spread out the money and allow more people to participate,” she explained.
“It is a shot in the arm for local businesses,” said councilperson and chamber board member John Wirsing. “It comes back to the town in sales tax and is a way to support local business. It draws people to town and specifically to the Visitor Center since that is where they have to buy them.”
“I like the concept but is there a way to use the program to draw more people up here into the valley,” asked Mayor Aaron Huckstep.
“We are promoting it and getting the word out to the lodging properties to dispense information to visitors,” explained Van Hoesen. “And the fact is that Butte Bucks helps local people shop locally as opposed to going online or driving to Montrose.”
“It would be great to get more people from outside using them or it’s like walking outside and just giving people on the street $20,” said Huckstep.
“People will spend say $100 for dinner and they may be more inclined to order a bottle of wine or even go out to dinner if they know they’ll get a 20 percent discount,” said Wirsing.
“The council provides such service grants for more than just the bottom line,” added councilperson Glenn Michel. “This program enhances the vitality of the business district and introduces people to new stores. We get more return than just the sales tax. It’s a great investment and has amazing residuals.”
“I’m just looking for ways to improve the program so we all benefit,” said Huckstep.
Councilperson Shaun Matusewicz said he’s read about similar programs where the host town mints coins instead of printing paper bucks. “About 20 percent of the coins don’t get spent but are saved as souvenirs by tourists,” he said. “This is a way for the program to break even. Have you considered changing it up for something like that?”
“We’ll explore that for next year,” promised Chamber events coordinator Scott Still. “That sounds like an interesting idea.”
The council unanimously agreed to spend the $5,000 in support of this year’s Butte Bucks program. The Bucks will go on sale December 1 and Van Hoesen hopes to have 50-60 local businesses participate this season.