By Danny Schrafel
There’s a new currency in town.
Think of “BID Bucks” as a Huntington Station coupon – good anywhere that pays Huntington Station Business Improvement District (BID) taxes.
Leaders of the local business improvement district are looking to launch the Huntington Station-focused program in time for this coming Christmas, which President Keith Barrett said is designed to get people to shop locally and support businesses in the hamlet.
“It’s all meant to bring more business into Huntington Station,” Barrett said.
Community activist Dee Thompson, the BID’s first vice-president, is spearheading the effort. Funds will be drawn from specific fundraising efforts, including the March 12 launch party for Anaconda Restaurant on New York Avenue. Those funds will be put in a separate BID account, which will be used to finance the currency.
“Let’s say we raise $15,000 between now and November,” Thompson said. “The whole idea is we’re going to give these dollars out at as a credit to people who shop in Huntington Station.”
Customers will save money, but merchants won’t have to foot the bill because shops that receive BID Bucks would be reimbursed by the agency.
Future fundraisers to support the BID Bucks initiative, such as a wine tasting tentatively scheduled for May, are in the works, Thompson said.
“Anything we can do to make the Station a more positive place, we’ll go with it,” Barrett said.
Nearby, in Northport, the Northport Chamber of Commerce has run with a similar program for more than a decade.
There, Dorothy Walsh, the chamber’s business liaison, said the Northport Dollars initiative got started as an outgrowth of the trend of students pooling their money, then going to the mall to buy gift cards as thank-you gifts for their teachers at the end of the school year.
Rather than send the cash to the mall, the seed was planted to keep the funds a little closer to home.
“She thought Northport should do something,” Walsh said of a customer of hers who discussed the trend. “That’s when we came up with Northport Dollars.
Walsh said the program has enjoyed widespread use and has helped keep shopping dollars local.
“Since then, we’ve had much success with it and not only that, it keeps the money within Northport,” she said.