Shop ‘Til You Drop… out of the mainstream market

“Shop Local,” a phrase popular among national marketers, is an authentic instinct in Jackson, particularly during the holidays. Jacksonites take pride in supporting the local businesses that make Town Square unique and useful.  To reward such loyalty, a group of Teton retailers have banded together to further incentivize holiday shopping at home: The Holiday Passport dangles a drawing for banner prizes from each of the dozen participating stores (think a quartet of copper Moscow Mule mugs from Mountain Dandy or $100-worth of fresh-cut flowers from Lily & Co.). Passport holders must collect stamps for each transaction at a participating retailer; six stamps earn one entry in the drawing; a full house of stamps garners three entries. To encourage timely buying, the passport window runs from Black Friday to December 13. Adding to the enticement, five local cafes and restaurants are offering deals to passport holders, such as free waffle fries with a dinner at Trio or a free boozy coffee drink with a Persephone breakfast. All told, participating stores are offering $2,500-worth of prizes.

The Holiday Passport began as a way to celebrate Jackson’s homespun breed of Black Friday, according to Passport founder John Frechette, co-owner of MADE and Mountain Dandy. Timed with the lighting of Town Square, the evening of Black Friday seemed like a perfect window to lure locals out with holiday sales and refreshments.  In the four years since the Passport first launched, Black Friday has become a fun outing before the holiday craze, a decidedly different experience than the mainstream market of big box retailers and rabid markdowns. “It is fun to see familiar faces and to be able to catch up before the holidays really heat up,” Frechette said.

Retailers too enjoy Black Friday and beyond, thanks to the collective benefit brought on by the fortnight shopping event. “The Passport has been a great way for a bunch of small-locally owned businesses to leverage each others marketing efforts,” Frechette said.

By design, the Holiday Passport is a curated affair featuring only a dozen shops, which keeps the campaign both manageable and special. According to Frechette, every year businesses ask to join in the festivities, but vacancies are rare as retailers rarely abandon the notion of incentivizing localized holiday shopping.

Rather than a holiday slogan, “Shop Local” is a year-round trend in the Tetons. “Luckily, small business is something that seems to be celebrated all the time in Jackson Hole,” Frechette said. “There are not a ton of big box options, so shopping small is a habit. If we can just convince folks to look around before they start clicking their mouse, then we will do well!”

This Year’s Passport Participants