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Friday, July 27, 2012

Kuna Melba News gave away free ads for Stimulus Day


As some of you may recall, in early 2008, the federal government issued a stimulus package to try to get the economy kickstarted and out of its doldrums. This stimulus took the form of a tax refund — not a rebate or credit, but a refund, a check to every taxpayer amounting to an estimated $8.5 million in the 83634 ZIP code that covered 6,300 mailboxes in Kuna, or about $1,300 per household.
I came up with the idea to hold a “Kuna Stimulus Day” on May 17 of that year, arguing that we should use the stimulus money for its intended purpose: to stimulate the economy, particularly our local economy.
I got some support for the idea from our columnist Steven Ricks, who urged people to shop locally that day. Nicola took it to the next level by putting together a special section in the newspaper with deals and coupons from local businesses.
The section ran for two weeks before the event.
Just to show how altruistic we were, we gave businesses the ads in the sections for free. Each business got a little square 2-by-2-inch ad to put their offer in. The 35 to 40 ads took up nearly three pages in our special sections, and they were all full color. We believed in the idea so much that we just wanted it to work without any risk to the local businesses. Heck, businesses that didn’t even advertise with us regularly or at all got a free ad in the sections.
We felt that our own long-term success was connected intrinsically with the success of our local businesses. If this was successful, it would come back to us eventually.
It was shocking to me that some businesses did not participate, even though it was completely free to them. Some business owners suffered from their own laziness.
Scanning over those ads now, I’m amazed to see dentists, investment advisers, realtors, accountants and insurance agents — businesses usually closed on Saturdays — hold office hours on that Saturday for the Kuna Stimulus Day. The Kuna Melba News held its own office hours, with a 15-month subscription for $22, plus you got a free Kuna Melba News ball cap with your new subscription. By God, if we didn’t try everything we could to get new subscribers.
As would become customary with anything ventured in Kuna, the result was “OK. Not great, but good.” That was the polite underwhelmed response from business owners when asked how they did on that Saturday. Needless to say, we did not see $8.5 million poured into Kuna that day.

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