The time-tested game of BINGO is being used to help promote local businesses.
Twin Cities Development project manager Michelle Coolidge said the game is a good way to promote local businesses and encourage consumers to shop locally.
Game cards can be picked up at participating businesses or at the TCD offices. Participants earn a sticker to place on their corresponding squares by spending a minimum of $10 on merchandise, services or gift cards. Receipts are required when you turn in your card. Traditional bingo rules apply as a BINGO may be obtained by matching five squares vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Once a BINGO is achieved, $25 gift card prizes can be collected at the TCD offices. Participants must be at least 16 years old to play.
The current game runs through Oct. 31. The next round will likely start around mid-November and run up to the holidays.
Coolidge said the program was set up similar to the Nebraska Passport program. Several other economic development agencies throughout the state are running similar programs.
“We’re hoping on the next go-round to add a few more (businesses) just to add variety,” Coolidge said. “We felt we wanted to do more of a regional scope and do from Morrill to Bridgeport, so the cards definitely do reflect that.”
The BINGO game is a way to help encourage people who may not be shopping in the same way they did before the coronavirus pandemic to get back out and visit local businesses.
“We’re hoping to really spread that out and get the momentum going to wrap it up at the end of the month,” Coolidge said. “What we’ll do is tweak it, make some adjustments and add some businesses and then hope to launch again about mid-November ... just to kind of help get people in the mood for Christmas and again to help our local businesses gear up for that at a time that typically would be a peak shopping season. Not knowing what’s coming down the road, this will help them do that.”
As long as there is participation, Coolidge said the programs would continue.
“The key is trying to find a way to let the businesses know that we’re glad they’re still up and running,” she said. “We’re hoping that as we ease through what my be potentially another peak here, that we’re doing what we can to help make sure that they’re still here.”
The uncertainty of the business environment makes a program such as the bingo promotion all the more important, Coolidge said.
“We’ve seen already that there have been businesses that have shuttered their doors permanently because they were not able to withstand the decline in their business during the shutdown,” she said. “Our hope would be not only to help bring others back out of that, but to help shore up a little bit.”
Supporting local businesses is key to supporting the local community, Coolidge said.
“Those are the people who are supporting your Little League teams and are donating to your school fundraisers,” she said. “Quite frankly, it’s their families that are sitting in the stands and everything as well. You want to keep them here and retain them, because as other things grow, you need to be able to have the amenities and services available for people to want to stay here.”
With the participating businesses spanning from Morrill to Bridgeport, Coolidge said the program gives a wide range of locations to support.
“We like the fact that it is regional,” she said. “As people are moving around for sports or other activities that their kids are involved in, they might be somebody from Minatare that happens to be in Morrill for something. There is an opportunity for them to support that business and mark a BINGO as well. Conversely, someone from Mitchell when they’re in Bridgeport for a volleyball game or something going on, they have an opportunity to support some of those businesses there, fill out their cards and go back.
"It really is about supporting the region as a whole, and maybe check out a place you haven’t been to before and find out they’ve got pretty good coffee there, let’s go back.”