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Tehachapi looks to stimulate economy by introducing local business loyalty program

Small businesses have been hit hard this year.
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Posted at 10:50 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 11:19:44-05

TEHACHAPI, Calif. — It's no question that small businesses have been hit hard this past year due to the pandemic. But to help the community rebound, the city of Tehachapi is hoping to boost the local economy through a new program.

The small business loyalty program is about neighbors helping neighbors, it starts by spending $100 at any locally owned business, from there shoppers will take that receipt over to the city hall where they will be given a $20 gift card to one of 11 businesses throughout the community, all in hopes of helping those most impacted by the pandemic.

“A lot of people have lost their dreams. If you saved up your money for 15 years with your dream of opening your restaurant and you opened your restaurant and then this hit, I mean it's horrible, devastating,” said small business owner Jim Ingersoll.

It’s no secret how tough the pandemic has been to the entire country including here in Kern County, but as a way to help people rebound, the city of Tehachapi has stepped up.

“We want our small businesses to succeed, and I've said it before, small business is the backbone of America. ”

That’s why teachable started this new program.

“They've made purchases from restaurants, combined them together, they've gone to our antique row. One went to an automotive center. We've had some go to a locally owned pet store, and they're bringing in their receipts,” said Key Budge, with the city.

According to Jim Ingersoll, this is exactly what one person did after purchasing greeting cards at his store, Art Gallery and Gifts.

"A guy came in this morning and bought 27 gift cards, so he could get to his $100 limit.”

While fuel, alcohol, and tobacco are not part of the program, that amount of $100 can be spent at a variety of small businesses within city limits, whether that be a restaurant or your local barbershop.

barbershop owner “It brings in the whole community together, I mean from Chinese restaurants to burger places, to barbershops to nail salons,“ said a local business owner.

While the loyalty program is about neighbors helping neighbors, employees at Canine Creek, a small pet store, have been encouraging their customers to turn in their receipts to the city hall where they can get a $20 gift card to another local business.

And since they've sent in so many people, their business was able to enter into the program with a $100 donation that was made by the owner of TK Pizza.

“Tehachapi has fared way better than most., and it's because of the community support we've seen it first hand and it's pretty awesome.”

Although this program was originally expected to go through March 31, Budge says they may sell out of the gift cards beforehand, however, if all goes well, he says they will likely do a second round of this program where they will choose another set of small businesses to purchase gift cards from.