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West Central Tribune offers some economic stimulus

Shopping cards from nearly 90 area businesses will go on sale at deep discounts early Tuesday at the West Central Tribune. Cards will be sold to readers at 30 to 40 percent off. Tribune photoby Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- The second phase of an economic stimulus package sponsored by the West Central Tribune begins early Tuesday morning.

Starting at 7 a.m., readers can purchase shopping cards through the Tribune that can be used to buy goods and services at nearly 90 area businesses.

The shopping cards are being sold to readers at a deep discount of 30 to 40 percent off the original price, but customers will receive the full-dollar benefit when they take those cards to the business to go shopping.

For example, a card that has a $20 shopping value at a store can be purchased for just $12 from the Tribune. The value of the shopping cards ranges from $20 to $300, depending on the type of business.

"It's a win-win-win," said Jan Queenan, advertising director. "The customers get a good deal."

More than 1,500 shopping cards will be available. Purchases can by made by shopping online through the Tribune's Web site at, by calling the Tribune at 320-214-4302 or by stopping at the Tribune office at 2208 Trott Ave. S.W., Willmar.

Not only will customers benefit by being able to stretch their shopping dollar further, but businesses benefit by getting customers in the door.

In the first phase of the stimulus package , said Queenan, businesses benefitted by not having to pay up-front advertising costs to participate in a special "Spring Spectacular" section that was published by the Tribune last month.

The project was designed to help businesses through the economic crunch and stimulate the local economy.

Instead of paying the regular fees for those ads, participating businesses instead provided shopping cards that the Tribune will now sell to readers.

The Tribune retains the revenue generated from the sale of the cards.

With the challenges that shoppers and businesses face in the economic downturn, the Tribune sought a creative approach to help out everyone in the equation, said Kari Gislason, assistant advertising director and marketing director.

Participating businesses are located in Willmar, Benson, New London, Spicer, Paynesville, Cold Spring and St. Cloud.

"It's a way to keep the money flowing in the community," said Queenan.

There are eight different categories: retail, home decor, services, fitness, recreation, dining/entertainment, lodging and spa/salon.

Shopping online for the cards will be easy, said Gislason. Just go to the Tribune's Web site and click on the shopping card promotion area. At 7 a.m. Tuesday, the selection of cards will be visible and can be added to a shopping cart.

Before Tuesday, participants are encouraged to pre-register in order to make their shopping process quicker and more convenient.

Individuals without Internet access can also call the Tribune and make purchases over the phone.

Sales will not begin until 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Because shoppers know a good deal when they see one, Gislason said she expects 75 percent of the cards to be sold the first day. "You can't afford not to save," she said.

If the sale of the shopping cards proves to be successful, Queenan and Gislason said the promotion may be used again in the future.

in a box:

The West Central Tribune's shopping cards can be purchased online by going to the Tribune's Web site:, by calling the Tribune at 320-214-4302 or by stopping at the Tribune office at 2208 Trott Ave. S.W., Willmar.

Sales begin at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The cards can be picked up at the Tribune office, located at 2208 Trott Ave. S.W. in Willmar's Industrial Park. There will be a $5.95 shipping fee for cards that are mailed.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750