“The Main Street Society folded into the Chamber, and part of the agreement was to make sure there was a Main St. presence,” current WCC chair Mike Pemberton said. “But we thought, this could be bigger than Main St.. We’re a chamber for all these businesses, not just Main St. We can have a bigger event.”
This year, that work has increased participation to 56 businesses who are participating in the event. The key to expanding that scope was the introduction of the Yukoner Appreciation Day Passport program, which entices customers to visit additional businesses to increase their chances to win prizes.
“The passport promotion was key when we initially did it,” Pemberton explained. “When people went off Main St., they were physically rewarded with more entries. This year, off Main St. is supported with a shuttle.”
The shuttle service will operate from noon until 9 p.m. and allow Yukoners to park on or off Main St. and still shuttle to the participating businesses like Canadian Tire, The Brick and Ashley Furniture.
The day marks the launch of the holiday shopping season here in the territory, but the day and activities aren’t entirely consumer-driven. The day itself has a cultural feel to it as businesses create a festive, open-door atmosphere. Pemberton noted that he tries to get out and meet with businesses during the event, and mentioned that Horwood’s Mall and their businesses have a Robson St.-like feeling with all of the events and activities taking place.
Activities planned by the WCC include the the Event Tent, set up at Main St. and Third Ave., which will feature music, entertainment and treats. Scheduled performances include the Whitehorse Community Choir at 6 p.m. and the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Can Can Dancers at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The day itself is an extension of the Buy Local movement that the WCC is promoting. The WCC realizes that online shopping isn’t going away and that there is a preference from some customers to shop that way. But Pemberton notes that local businesses have to make sure that they are demonstrating to Yukoners the benefit of local business.
“It’s an economy of community, and you really have to give,” he said. “We spend about 95 per cent of our time telling consumers to shop local and about five per cent of our time telling businesses to give local.”
That sentiment guides the commitment the WCC has to customers from Yukon communities. Some Yukoners have questioned why it’s called Yukoner Appreciation Day, when it is difficult for community residents to make it down to take part. Pemberton said that the organizers have heard those concerns and have committed that many businesses will extend their deals to regular business hours on Saturday, November 3 for rural residents. If you bring your ID, showing your address, Yukoners from communities can still benefit from the deals.
For more information about Yukoner Appreciation Day and participating businesses, visit the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce website at WhitehorseChamber.ca.