GIG HARBOR, Wash.—Gig Harbor small businesses are hopeful a jewelry scavenger hunt will also be gift to mom and pop retailers.
Ken Walker Jewelers is hiding boxes containing anything from bracelets and necklaces to earrings each day worth up to $300.
They’ll be hidden each day until Christmas Eve, with the exception of Sundays when the jewelry store is closed.
A clue will be posted on the store’s Facebook page; whoever finds the gift box keeps it.
It’s all part of the “Finders Keepers” program that started several years ago when the economy hit area businesses hard, especially in Harbor Plaza where Ken Walker is located.
“We’ve seen quite a few businesses in the harbor that have had to vacate,” said Stacey Friant, manager.
Competition for sales have only toughened with more major chain stores moving in.
“It’s amazing how many of the big box stores have come into what used to be an old fishing village. We’re really trying to keep that Gig Harbor feel,” said Friant.
According to Friant, jewelry boxes will only be hidden in small businesses.
“It’s awesome; I think it’s great to keep the community together,” said Karlee Kelmel, a manager at a nearby Mud Bay pet store.
Melissa Savala found a $144 necklace at Mud Bay on Friday, minutes after Friant posted the clue “You don’t have to get muddy to find this treat” on the jewelry store’s Facebook page.
“I thought it was weird just sitting there, it made my day, she said.
With a nearby Pet Smart now open in town, Kelmel appreciates the added exposure.
“I know that it’s been hard for a lot of stores in the area, we just lost one of our pet stores,” said Kelmel.
Although the necklace was already gone by the time Jennifer Milbourn and her son found the clue, she says the experience is still valuable.
“I definitely think it gets people into the businesses and supports them,” said Milbourn.
Friant hopes the scavenger hunt drives more attention to the appeal of shopping at small businesses.
“Customers aren’t just a number to us. When you come in you know that we’re here and we’re here to stand behind our product,” she said.
“It feels better when you walk into those stores, you’re not just another person you’re the person,” said Kelmel.
About a dozen Harbor Plaza businesses have now formed the Harbor Plaza Merchants Association because of the promotion.
By banning together, Friant hopes they can compete with big box stores during the holidays and throughout the year.