Council OK's shop-local campaign for Valentine's

KINGMAN - The Kingman City Council on Monday approved granting $800 in contingency funds to the Economic Development and Marketing Commission for a Valentine's Day shop-local ad campaign, but not before grilling commission vice chair John Kirby on the necessity of the funds.

The EDMC Shop Kingman Subcommittee hopes to use the funds in the days leading up to Feb. 14 to spread the message, "For those close to your heart, shop close to home." Committee members plan to spend the funds on newspaper advertisements, radio announcements, fliers and promotional business signage.

In making his case for the funds, Kirby freely admitted to Council that Valentine's Day is not traditionally a large "leakage" holiday for Kingman, with most residents restricting their purchases to local florists, jewelers and restaurants. All the same, he argued that launching a shop-local campaign the week prior to the holiday would help cement the idea in the minds of local shoppers, leading to a long-term payoff on bigger retail holidays such as Christmas.

"In order to continue our Shop Kingman campaign, it's important that there's some continuity to that message," Kirby said. "We think it's important that the message of staying here and shopping in Kingman is something that's out there as often as makes sense."

Kirby noted that the $3,500 Shop Local Christmas campaign had been funded entirely by local businesses without need of city funds. He added that the Shop Kingman Subcommittee would continue to work with local businesses to solicit funds for future campaigns, at least until the next fiscal year, when the EDMC will have a line item on the city's budget.

Noting that city funds were tight, Councilman Ray Lyons argued that plenty of local businesses were already doing Valentine's Day advertising of their own. Kirby agreed but again pressed for continuity in the shop-local message.

"If we're successful, in the years to come, it could benefit the city greatly in that the sales tax dollars will stay here," Kirby said. "It's sort of an investment in ourselves."

Councilwoman Robin Gordon asked Kirby if the EDMC would have enough time to get the message out with Valentine's Day less than two weeks away. He said he believed doing advertising in the week just prior to the holiday would be enough, adding that no specific businesses would be singled out by the campaign.

Councilman Kerry Deering was skeptical that the $800 spent on advertising would generate an additional $800 in local sales tax revenue. Noting that the recommendation from EDMC passed by only a 6-4 vote, Deering asked Kirby what the dissenters' opinions had been.

"I think a large part of it was just the reality that there's not a lot of money to be spent, and was this a worthwhile effort to come to you and ask for money for such an event?" Kirby replied.

Councilman Keith Walker said he had initially been skeptical about spending money specifically on Valentine's Day advertising, but he agreed with Kirby's contention that continuity was most important to the campaign's success. He indicated he could support such an expenditure.

Mayor John Salem agreed, but he added in most cases he would have required the EDMC to first seek funds from the Economic Tourism and Development Commission prior to approaching Council. "As tight as the general fund is, I'm hesitant to do this again in the future," he said. He admitted, however, that he believed the recently-formed EDMC was "going to do good things."

Gordon made the motion for approval and Walker seconded. The motion passed 6-0, with Councilwoman Carole Young excused from the meeting.

Elsewhere on the agenda, councilmembers also passed a pair of grant applications to fund the Kingman Area Regional Transit system and to invest in new vehicles, office furniture, security upgrades and lighting.