By Dillon Thomas

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The city of Boulder is giving away more than $100,000 in free spending money to those who are shopping at some local retail stores. In an effort to boost revenue at local Boulder retail stores, the city has allocated more than $100,000 of its federal CARES Act money to the “Boulder Bonus Bucks” program.

The program gives up to $100 for free to any person who buys a Boulder gift card, which can only be used at participating local businesses.

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The program, which launched on Nov. 27 and will expire Dec. 30, is designed to infuse spending money that is more likely to stay within Boulder city limits.

“It should be a win-win-win for everyone,” said Jennifer Bray, spokeswoman for the city of Boulder. “It keeps people employed, it keeps these businesses running, it keeps people buying their goods.”

As the money is funneled through the hands of locals and to business owners, sales tax revenue is then increased for the city as well. The simple act of using the bonus bucks at the more than 70 participating stores helps buyers, sellers and the city. Money returned via taxes then goes on to support local law enforcement, firefighters, medical assistance and even road work.

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“It’s free money,” Bray told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “The response has been pretty high, we are thrilled to see it.”

Local businesses must first apply though the city to take part in the bonus bucks. One of the more than 70 companies to enlist thus far is Jacque Michelle Gifts and Fashion in northwest Boulder.

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“It helps us out tremendously. We had a very good response with the cards (Saturday),” said Janet Taffet, co-owner of the store.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic sales have plummeted at locally-owned stores across the nation. Boulder, while one of the richest cities in the region, is not immune to the impact. Taffet said sales at her store dropped more than 40%.

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“Our sales are down,” Taffet said. “It has been quite the challenge, and we are the lucky ones.”

Taffet said the early response from the bonus bucks system has already helped plug a lifeline in to their business, especially as they navigate the final quarter of one of the most trying economic years in history.

“You make it or break it fourth quarter,” Taffet said. “Our customers are our neighbors.”

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LINK: Boulder Bonus Bucks

Dillon Thomas