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Chris Gravdahl looks at fleece fabric for a Christmas blanket project at Ben Franklin in Detroit Lakes Tuesday morning. Photo by - Brian Basham

Shop local and get lucky

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Looking for some incentives to shop in Detroit Lakes this holiday season?

Take a look at the Detroit Lakes Newspapers' Christmas Card Giveaway -- nearly $7,000 in cash and gift certificates will be given away to reward people for shopping locally.

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Five local banks (First Security, Bell State, Midwest, Bremer and American National) chipped in $1,000 apiece to make the promotion work.

The 38 local businesses participating in the campaign sweetened the pot by each contributing two $25 gift certificates.

The money and gift certificates are given away in weekly drawings starting Friday and running through Dec. 21.

Each of the four drawings has five $75 winners and five $250 winners. On Dec. 24, a $350 grand prize winner will be drawn.

To qualify for the drawings, people must spend money at the 38 participating businesses, which are listed on the card and range from Ace Hardware to Norby's to the Speak Easy to Thrifty White Drug.

Shoppers receive a stamp for the total dollar amount of the purchase. The back of the Christmas Card has spots for ten $5 purchases and five $10 purchases -- or $100 total. Once all the stamps are on the Christmas Card, shoppers can drop it off at any of the participating businesses to be entered in the prize drawings.

The newspaper first used the promotion last year, when about 25 businesses participated.

"By using this last year, we saw $300,000 spent in Detroit Lakes with just this promotion," said DL Newspapers Advertising Manager Mary Brenk.

This year, the newspaper asked the six local banks to help sweeten the pot, and all but Wells Fargo decided to participate.

The banks earn goodwill from customers and business clients and get free print and online advertising out of the deal.

"The banks were enthusiastic -- it's a very good community event, and these are their clients, too," Brenk said.

"We printed 7,000 Christmas Cards, and we may have to do a second printing, they're going fast," she added.

"Last year we went through about 5,000 cards."

The promotion is designed for smaller local businesses, not the big box stores.

"This isn't a promotion that would fit them at all," Brenk said. "It just wouldn't be feasible."

While individual stores and the Washington Square Mall have Christmas sales and promotions, another major "shop local" campaign is put on by the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce.

It offered two $450 drawings for "Merry Money" earlier in the season, and provides "Chamber Bucks" year-round, designed to be spent at local businesses.

The chamber and the mall also generate interest through special holiday events like Santa's Grand Parade of Lights, Christmas decorating contests, photos with Santa, and horse-drawn wagon rides.

"It's kind of a thank you to people for shopping locally and encouraging them to do more shopping," said Chamber President Carrie Johnston.

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