Shop Ridgefield Social Media campaign: $50 gift certificates

Shoppers were out on Ridgefield's Main Street on Saturday, Nov. 21. A new 'Shop Ridgefield Social Media Challenge' is promoting the downtown with $50 gift certificates.

Shoppers were out on Ridgefield's Main Street on Saturday, Nov. 21. A new 'Shop Ridgefield Social Media Challenge' is promoting the downtown with $50 gift certificates.

Macklin Reid / Hearst Connecticut Media

Less jingle-turkey this year, but the holidays are still coming.

So, the “Shop Ridgefield Social Media Challenge” — offering $10,000 worth of $50 gift certificates — has been created even as in-person activities, events and even family gatherings are scuttled in the face relentlessly rising COVID-19 numbers.

It’s a shop local campaign designed to help fill in for what the coronavirus pandemic has ruled out.

The traditional ceremonial switch-filpping ceremony that turns on Main Street’s holiday lights — and usually draws hundreds of people to town — will be a “virtual event” this year, on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

And the Ridgefield Holiday Village — planned as a four-weekend series of attractions in Ridgefield’s commercial village, between Thanksgiving and Christmas — has been called off.

“Most of the activities of the Ridgefield Holiday Village had to be canceled because of the uptick in COVID cases in town,” said Geoffrey Morris, chairman of Ridgefield’s Economic and Community Development Commission (ECDC).

“However the major activity and the underlying mission of the Ridgefield Holiday Village is not canceled: shopping in Ridgefield stores.”

First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the Nov. 18 Board of Selectmen’s meeting that the Holiday Village, which organizers had put a huge effort into, just couldn’t happen with the town’s COVID rate rising into the “red” zone.

“We need to — unfortunately — cancel the Holiday Village,” Marconi said.

Within a couple of days of Marconi’s announcement, organizers of the Holiday Village — the ECDC, the Downtown Ridgefield merchants, the Chamber of Commerce — had come up with an alternative plan.

(It was their second alternative plan of the season, given that the monthlong Holiday Village had been organized as a less crowded replacement for the one weekend Holiday Stroll, town retailers’ traditional holiday promotion, which was called off months ago due to the pandemic.)

The “Shop Ridgefield Social Media Challenge” has a simple concept: Ridgefielders, Ridgefield shoppers, and their friends are asked to continue supporting local businesses — in person, online, or by a phone order — and get the word out about their shopping experiences through social media.

“We are asking people to record a shopping experience in Ridgefield stores, or when they have a great customer experience via delivery or pickup” Morris said, and share the photos on social media.

How it works

As Morris outlined the program, a customer or visitor who comes to a retailer in Ridgefield, or places an order from one — online, via phone, or email — or receives a delivery, or somehow interacts with a Ridgefield business, would take a picture and post it on social media.

The picture could be a selfie taken in a Ridgefield store, or a photo of a purchase from a local business. The shopper would then “post it on Instagram and/or Facebook and tag the ECDC Facebook page use #ridgefieldholidays2020,” Morris said.

That posted photo, tagged to the ECDC Facebook page, becomes the shopper’s entry to try to earn one of the 200 gift certificates, of $50 each, that are being given away.

“Every Friday, we will select a number of posts from the tagged submissions and each will receive a $50 gift certificate to spend at a participating merchant,” Morris said.

“Over the course of the program, we will draw a total of 200 winners!”

It’s another way to boost local businesses in these very tough economic times.

“The stores in which the gift certificates can be redeemed must be a Ridgefield-based brick-and-mortar business,” Morris said.

“We will be offering $10,000 in gift certificates — putting money back into our local stores and businesses.

“We are hopeful this program will bring traffic/recognition to the stores as well as being the direct beneficiary of gift certificate funds donated by The Ridgefield Holiday Village and its sponsors,” he said.

Village canceled

The cancelation of the planned ‘Ridgefield Holiday Village’ was announced by First Selectam Rudy Marconi at last Wednesday night’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

With COVID-19 numbers in town rising, Marconi also announced then that all youth sports would be suspended until mid-January.

At the time of Marconi’s announcement, Ridgefield had gone above a rate of 29 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 population.

“Tonight it’s 29.1 cases per 100,000,” Marconi told the selectmen.

“The ‘red line’ is 15 per 100,000,” Marconi said.

The 29.1 was up from a figure of 28 per 100,000 residents that Marconi had announced the day before, at Tuesday night’s tri-board meeting of the selectmen, finance and school boards.

Marconi’s figures represent a “rolling average” for the last week.

In a town of 25,000, Marconi’s 29.1 and 28 per 100,000 figures both translate to about 7 new cases a day, averaged over the last week. (The cases per 100,000 population is a metric the state uses, to enable comparisons between towns, cities and geographic areas.)

“Every community in Fairfield County is in the red,” Marconi said.

Ridgefield was the last town in Fairfield County to go red, he said.

The Holiday Village had been planned as a four weekend series of attractions designed to get people shopping in Ridgefield Center, without bringing a huge crowd all at once as has been traditional with the “Holiday Stroll.” — which it was created to replace this year, due to the COVID-19 situation.