Helping Main Street Merchants Weather the Winter Doldrums

As you may have noticed while walking along Main Street, January is typically a slow season for many retailers as consumers try to pay off bills accumulated during the holidays. Hopefully, Main Street retailers have planned for and are prepared to weather this annual slow season. offers several tips to help retailers make the most of the down time. But, no matter how productively retailers use this time, there is no getting around the fact that the cash registers have to keep ringing in order to make payroll, pay vendors, keep the lights on and keep the landlord happy.

To help its merchants through this year’s slow season, Main Street Beaufort, USA, is selling $15,000 worth of “Main Street Dollars” for use between February 18 and March 31. Selling “Main Street Dollars” or “Downtown Dollars” is not a new “buy local” marketing strategy, but Beaufort’s 50% discount changes the math. Customers who buy $50 worth of “Main Street Dollars” will be able to purchase $100 worth of goods and services from Beaufort Main Street businesses. The local main street program will use $7,500 from its marketing fund to reimburse merchants that accept the dollars. 

“I think it’s a very innovative thought in a time when the business downtown is slow, ” said City of Beaufort Redevelopment Commission Chairman Jon Verity.

The experiment in Beaufort is a buy local, Main Street-wide, 50 percent off super sale that was inspired by the success of a similar program in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. The succeess of Ardmore’s program won it a 2011 Community Marketing Award from the Pennsylvania Downtown Center (Pennsylvania’s Main Street program) as well as the support of four local banks that donated $10,000, which translated into $20,000 of Downtown Dollars, for the winter holiday shopping season.