‘More than a transaction:’ Vail Valley resident creates Local Business Bingo to support community
Michael Routh was on a Mastermind video call for work when someone used the phrase “local business bingo.” It was on his mental back burner for about a week, and then he realized he could turn a one-off phrase into reality while talking to one of his clients.
Routh’s Rocky Mountain Home Team division of Keller Williams Real Estate has turned Local Business Bingo into a fun way to support local businesses. Bingo sheets are circulating on Facebook and handed out at 25 Eagle County businesses, restaurants and charities. Five-in-a-row earns the winner a $50 gift card to participating businesses, and there are 20 available prizes.
“We haven’t had a bingo yet, so I still have the opportunity for 20 people to win a gift card,” Routh said. “And the cool thing is that there’s not a chance of winning. If you’re one of the first 20, you win.”
Routh started by reaching out to personal friends, past clients and friends of friends. He cold-called businesses and was able to recruit the 25 participating organizations to start the game on May 1.
“It all came together,” he said.
One of the people he talked to was his friend, Timothy Haley, a commercial banking officer at Alpine Bank. Haley passed on the idea to his coworker Betsy Wood, who works in community engagement at the bank. Thanks to Wood’s efforts, Alpine Bank will match donations to the five nonprofits represented in Local Business Bingo up to $5,000. Those five nonprofits are The Community Market, Habitat for Humanity, Roundup River Ranch, SOS Outreach and the Swift Eagle Charitable Foundation.
Making a positive impact was a driving factor for Routh. Rocky Mountain Home Team is paying for half the value of each gift card to help the businesses financially participate in bingo, and the owners are excited to partner with him on this project.
“We really believe it is important to keep our purchases and spending money within our little community as much as possible, especially in times like these,” said Marti Hurd at Wishes The Toy Store.
“The bingo board gives our community one more reason to get out and support so many local businesses at a crucial time, all while raising money for charity and having a little community fun,” said Lauren Merrill at Alpine Arts Center.
At the same time, Routh also supports community safety measures meant to prevent a massive shock to the health care system.
“We need to be open, but we need to be smart about it,” he said. “There’s a balance.”
But support is about more than money for Routh. He’s lived here for 20 years and holds the local community in high regard. His top requirement when selecting businesses was making sure the owners live in Eagle County. He knows many of them because of the Eagle Valley’s tight-knit nature: his next-door neighbor owns the Subway franchises in Edwards and Eagle.
“I live here. I want to make a difference,” he said.
And because he’s so invested in the community’s well-being, he wanted to help preserve the things that build its personality.
“In my mind, this was meant to remind the community that businesses are open in some fashion. They’re all struggling,” he said. “If we lost even five of these local businesses because of this, then we’re losing a part of our community.”
“It’s always been more than a transaction to me.”
To play bingo, pick up a card from local participating businesses, access it on Facebook here, or email “bingo” to firstname.lastname@example.org. Printable copies are available here. To win, email copies of receipts to that same email address, showing that you made five in a row. For charity brownie points, donate to all five nonprofits and create a line from the top left to bottom right corners. The game will continue until all 20 gift cards are claimed.
25 ways to support
Here’s a list of the participating organizations:
- Alpine Arts Center
- Alpine Quest Sports
- Avon Bakery & Deli
- Beaver Liquors
- Bob’s Place
- The Bookworm of Edwards
- The Community Market
- Cut / Drunken Goat
- Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley
- Hovey & Harrison
- Moe’s Original BBQ
- Moontime Cyclery
- Peak Performance Footwear
- Red Canyon Cafe
- Riverwalk Theater
- Roundup River Ranch
- Smiling Moose Deli
- SOS Outreach
- Subway of Edwards and Eagle
- Swift Eagle Charitable Foundation
- Vail Brewing Co.
- Vin 48
- Wishes Toy Store
- Zino Ristorante