AIKEN, SC. (WJBF) — Small business owners in Aiken are hoping you’ll shop at their stores this holiday season, and the city’s Chamber of Commerce is helping to steer shoppers toward those businesses.

It’s the season for gifting, giving, and spending; with the holidays right around the corner a new program is showing people what they have in their own backyards, and encouraging them to shop locally.

“I mean, I think it’s a great idea. Thumbs up all the way to the chamber for coming up with this little idea, I love it so much,” said Bobby Ard, owner of Beyond Bijoux.

The Aiken Red Ticket campaign was created in 2021 by the Chamber of Commerce in an effort to build up small businesses after the pandemic hit. 

“We call it the COVID click, shopping online, you know, not going out. So, in 2021 this was our way of really trying to push people to get out and support local,” said Jim Tunison, Director of Membership Services.

For each $25 spent, shoppers get one ticket with weekly drawings for cash prizes totaling $5,000.

“People come out looking for, you know, do you guys do red tickets? So, they look for, like ‘okay, did I get two yet?’” Ard said.

Ard says it’s helped his business. 

“It is the greatest idea for the small businesses, really, because people come looking for the tickets, we have seen a huge increase in the amount of local shoppers just since they started this last year,” Ard said.

While the program focuses on the holiday gift-buying season, it impacts business in Aiken year-round.

“67 cents out of every dollar spent at a local business stays in the local community supporting jobs and wages and obviously paying the taxes that go to our school district, so it’s really important to get out and support local,” Tunison said.

The event ends December 19, so if you are interested, click here to find out more.