The biggest challenge in the new Downtown Langley Business Association’s new contest was convincing the owners that they had won.
“I didn’t believe it,” said winner Francois Deschenes about the Shop Your Heart Out Contest. “It took a while to be told that I had won something. My wife [Glenys] was laughing a lot and smiling a lot and teasing me a lot, but eventually I got the message.”
He had forgotten about entering the contest after visiting the Colour Tech Hair Studio.
Winner Marla Poirier thought the phone call from the DLBA wasn’t real. She had entered the contest at This Is It Gifts.
“I got woken up from a nap so I thought I was dreaming,” she said.
Fred and Joan Schwebbach, who entered at Crescent Wines, were skeptical.
“I almost hung up when I got the call because I thought it was a sales pitch,” said Fred.
What they won were $1,000 in DLBA cash which is good to spend in downtown Langley City, along with swag. But what’s unique about the contest intended to encourage people to shop at downtown shops was the winners got to choose a charity to receive $500.
Poirier picked the Ron Dunkley Memorial Society which fundraises to support various local and firefighter related initiatives. It was created by the Sandy and Gene Dunkley, the parents of the deceased firefighter.
“Sandy [Dunkley] is a lovely woman with a big heart,” Poirier said on why she choose the society. “I know whatever money she receives is going to go to a really good cause where it’s needed so it just made sense.”
Deschenes is helping to feed hungry stomachs, earmarking his gift to the St. Joe’s Soup Kitchen.
“If I was living on the street, I would want to have something to eat once in a while,” he said.
The Ishtar Transition Housing Society was the Schwebbach’s choice.
“It’s a charity that doesn’t get much publicity,” Fred said. “They need the money they sort of fall through the cracks. All the big names get the money.”
As part of the campaign, shoppers could vote for a cause that would also be receiving funds, so Douglas Park Community School and Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation will each receive $1,600 through this new holiday contest. A total of 249 shoppers voted to the charities of their choice.
“Approximately 28,800 receipts were collected, and at a conservative $50/receipt, we know that over $1,440,000 was spent in the downtown over the six week period of the contest.,” James said.
The merchants like the new contest format as well.
“Everybody was really excited about it. It brought more enthusiasm to the draw,” noted Crescent Wines’ Kathy Lawler.
“It was great. People were so thrilled that it was something for charity, added Tina Steinke, of This Is It Gifts.
Colour Tech’s Barb Merkley also liked the charity component.
“It really added an extra layer to the enthusiasm and the appreciation,” she said.
James said she was impressed by the diversity of causes, noting a dozen smaller organizations were chosen.
“We will absolutely do Shop Your Heart Out next year,” James said. ‘The feedback from shoppers and participating businesses has been very successful. People love the idea of businesses giving back. Langley is a very caring community.”