Business

Coupeville Red Ticket boosts business

Bayleaf owner Beth Graves and Janice Vaughan of Whidbey Island Bank stand with Red Ticket award winner Mary Hollen, at right.. She won the $1,000 grand prize during a drawing Sunday afternoon on the steps of the Island County Museum. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Bayleaf owner Beth Graves and Janice Vaughan of Whidbey Island Bank stand with Red Ticket award winner Mary Hollen, at right.. She won the $1,000 grand prize during a drawing Sunday afternoon on the steps of the Island County Museum.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Hundreds of shoppers and those who were just feeling lucky descended on historic downtown Coupeville during a cool, sunny afternoon to see who would win the $1,000 grand prize of the annual Red Ticket promotion, which business owners have been conducting for weeks in an effort to boost shopping in town.

The Red Ticket promotion is in its third year and judging by the huge crowd Sunday it’s meeting its goal of attracting more shoppers.

The drama ended when the winning ticket was drawn. Coupeville accountant Mary Hollen purchased the $1,000 ticket at the Honey Bear when she was shopping for her grandchildren in early December. Now with the big stack of cash in hand, it looks like her children will enjoy an upgrade in their gifts.

“Their Christmas presents will be better,” Hollen said after winning the drawing, adding that she will probably donate a portion of the prize to charity.

Well-intentioned shoppers who weren’t able to attend Sunday’s drawing had a local charity in mind. They donated their tickets to Gifts from the Heart food bank with the hope the needy would benefit from a bit of a windfall. By the time Dec. 19 rolled around, the local food bank had acquired nearly 1,000 tickets from charitable shoppers.

Their efforts seemed to work. Gifts from the Heart won one of three $100 prizes. Volunteer Debbie Wysomierski was on hand with a pile of 973 tickets to sift through a printout showing the numbers.

Anne Harvey and Jeanie Legat won the remaining two $100 prizes during the drawing.

People lined up along the sidewalks and the crowd spilled onto Alexander Street, which was cordoned off by Coupeville police, as everyone waited anxiously to see if they had the winning ticket.

Everybody had plans for the money if they had won.

Anacortes resident Vanessa Caruso, who watched the drawing with her son, Dominic and daughter Michela from the museum steps, said she would “go out for a day of beauty and rest.” She is a kindergarten teacher on Fidalgo Island.

Coupeville resident Lyla Snover said she would have probably donated the winnings to charity. She watched the drawing with her grandchildren Phoenix and Justice Lester.

Thousands of entries were placed in the tumbler for the Red Ticket drawing, which is in its third year and sponsored by Whidbey Island Bank and organized by the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association.

Organizers were thrilled with the turnout Sunday and the participation in the ticket promotion.

Waterfront association president Eileen Hunter said such promotions help spread goodwill and cheer. Despite the recession that has been plaguing business over the past several years, sales in downtown Coupeville has remained steady. Only one restaurant has closed, but all other merchants in downtown remain in business and the town even saw a new building, complete with a new restaurant, built this year.

“This is not a ghost town like other places,” Hunter said.

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