Chamber encourages both tourism, shopping locally

November 21, 2012 01:00 pm

Business is bustling in Wallowa County and the Chamber of Commerce is doing its part to encourage both tourism and shopping locally.

In-coming Chamber President Marc Stauffer said he is pleased with the diversity of the board with members representing ranching and farming, timber, education and health care and small businesses. 

Stauffer said he and the 2012 president, Adrian Harguess, met with each of the county’s city councils and other entities to best answer the question, “What does the Chamber do?”

Stauffer has also recorded radio ads with KWVR. Over the summer they were directed at visitors in hopes to direct them to the area’s best sites. This fall, they are encouraging consumers to shop locally.

Right now, the Shop Local and Buckskin Bucks programs are well underway with the holiday shopping season upon us. Shopping and dining in the county helps local businesses as does buying Buckskin Bucks from the Chamber. 

Reminiscent of scrip used in the 1930s when money was printed on deer hide, Buckskin Bucks are Gift certificates are accepted at 50 Wallowa County businesses.

Today’s version is printed on paper, but with the look of the original and come in $10 and $25 denominations.

Last year $14,500 were sold in the increasingly popular program and make great gifts for employees, said Stauffer.

“They can be bought at the Chamber, then used at participating businesses who exchange them at the Chamber’s office for their full value,” said Stauffer.


Bank pays for printing

This year, Community Bank volunteered to pay the printing costs.

Another way the Chamber is encouraging its Shop Local campaign is by spotlighting a different business each month in its newsletter. This month’s newsletter spotlights Les Schwab Tires in Enterprise. The newsletter is available online at

Stauffer said the website is getting a facelift, a resource that lists events and a community calendar that is updated daily. 

“The new website will have a lot more flexibility and allow businesses to update their own information,” said Stauffer.

A new service the Chamber is bringing to the county is two-way conferencing with state legislators.

Stauffer said, “Once or twice a month we will have a community forum so we will be updated on anything that affects small business or Wallowa County.” 

Thinking outside the county, Stauffer said the Chamber has increased its regional advertising to attract more tourism. Print ads were run in the Lewiston Tribune and the Kennewick Entertainer. Stauffer said the Chamber visits the State Fair every three years and is an opportunity to speak personally with returning and potential new visitors.

In 1997, the county commissioners signed a resolution stating the purpose of the Chamber is to “promote the commercial, agricultural, industrial and civic interest of Wallowa County and to create a better public economic development.” Stauffer said by collaborating with Wallowa Resources, Northeast Oregon Economic Development District and the Wallowa County Business Facilitation the Chamber seeks to fulfill this mission.

“We’ve been meeting to understand what we all do. Each entity does certain things very well while some of our efforts overlap,” said Stauffer.

In January, the chamber hosts its annual awards banquet and nominations will be accepted at the chamber office through Dec. 1. For more information drop by 309 River St. or call