Gift cards, prize promotions make shopping local easy and fun this holiday season

The holiday shopping season is officially underway, with Americans expected to spend more than $650 billion on gifts, food, celebrations and other holiday needs. Local organizations are ramping up their efforts to encourage consumers to “shop local,” with gift cards and other promotions to sweeten the pot.

“Arizonans should recognize that where they spend their money has a much greater impact on their community and well-being than they might expect,” says Kimber Lanning, founder and director of Local First Arizona. “Up to four times more money stays in the local economy when those dollars are spent with local businesses rather than a national chain or global online retailer.”

Local First Arizona defines a local business as one that is privately owned and headquartered in Arizona. If the business has multiple locations, a majority of the locations must be in Arizona. In essence, most of the money that goes through the business should stay within or end up in Arizona’s local economy.

LFA launched its annual Buy Local Month on Nov. 25, with the campaign running through Jan. 1.

A Downtown Tucson eGift Card, a collaboration between LFA and the Downtown Tucson Partnership, is part of the promotion.

Good at any participating downtown business, the Downtown Tucson eGift Card allows you to treat all of downtown as one experience, says Lanning, so rather than choosing between the many gift-worthy businesses downtown, you can buy an eGift card for your loved ones and let them enjoy.

In addition, for each $100 you spend, you’ll receive an extra $25 gift card.

Some 70 businesses are accepting the eGift Card, meaning you can grab a slice at Empire Pizza, then go shopping at  MAST, Perri Jewelers or Laura Tanzer, then catch a show at the Fox Tucson Theatre, all using the same gift card. The full list of participating businesses can be found at downtowntucson.org/gift-card. Learn more and purchase gift cards at https://downtowntucson.insta gift.com/.

The gift cards make great last minute gifts, as each is instantly redeemable and delivered by email.

The Town of Oro Valley is also running its sixth annual shop local holiday campaign, through Jan. 6. During this time, anyone who shops at a participating Oro Valley business and spends at least $25 is eligible to participate in a weekly prize drawing sponsored by 58 Oro Valley businesses. Among these businesses are several Arizona Jewish Post advertisers, including America’s Mattress, Brake Masters, Mama’s Pizza and the Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens and Galleries.

The final prize is a gift basket filled with gift cards from stores in the Oro Valley Marketplace.

There is no limit on entries. Participants can submit receipts online at http://bit.ly/shopov or in person at Oro Valley Town Hall, 11000 N. La Canada Drive, or the Oro Valley Community Center, 10555 N. La Canada Drive.

The town also offers an OV Dollars gift card that can be used at participating locations. For more information, visit orovalleyaz.gov/business/shop-oro-valley.