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Libertyville dealers giving gift certificates with car sales this month

October 16, 2020
One north Chicago suburb is getting creative to boost the economy. Through this month, people who buy a new car in Libertyville will get some money to keep shopping around town.
Main Street is hurting across America, and in Libertyville, Main Street is Milwaukee Avenue.
"It’s been quieter. A lot quieter," said Kristine Knutson, who has owned a gift shop on Milwaukee Avenue for 14 years.
"We are probably down at least 45% from last year; which is a huge, huge thing," Knutson said. "We’re small, and we need you, and in order to be here another 14 years, we need people to start walking in the doors."
While mom-and-pop shops hit the brakes, another industry kept driving in Libertyville early in the pandemic.
"Fortunately for the car dealers, we were deemed an essential business," said Dan Marks, president of Libertyville Lincoln. "So we have been able to be open, and it has been decent rather than other businesses that haven’t been able to go at full capacity."
So the dealerships and the Libertyville president’s office came up with a plan. Anyone who buys a new car in Libertyville now can earn a gift certificate which can be used at any Libertyville business that signs up for the program.
"They’re hanging by a thread, let’s face it. When you can only do 20% of business, or a number of businesses were closed for months and couldn’t do anything, we need to keep the businesses open, we need to keep people employed," Libertyville President Terry Weppler said.
If this plan sounds familiar, it’s because Libertyville has done it before. They first awarded the certificates in 2009 during the Great Recession.
Libertyville residents get $200 worth of gift certificates; out-of-towners get $100.
"People are buying online, and the fact is Amazon does not do a thing to support our Scouts, our community groups, our Little League teams, our soccer teams," Weppler said.
The village is paying for the certificates. The mayor said the village’s 12 dealerships around town rake in $4.4 million a year from car sales.
Knutson will take whatever boost she can get. She makes most of her money off custom wedding invites and gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen, but that market is on ice.
"We just need to be able to get more people in," she said.
The dealerships said that for each gift certificate given out, they are donating $100 to charities to help people in need right now. The program lasts through October.