Town Promises Not Raise Prices During Festivals

Town Promises Not Raise Prices During Festivals
By: Lauren Keith

Sparta, IL -- We're heading into festival and fair season.  It's a time when tourists flood the Heartland, and businesses hope to cash in on the added guests.

But, that can sometimes go too far.  For instance, you might even see some price gouging. One Heartland town has a plan to prevent that.  SeveralSparta business owners have signed up to be "straight shooters."

The Sparta Chamber of Commerce hopes this plan will prevent price gouging, especially as that town prepares for many events at the new world shooting complex.  The Chamber sells sticker decals with the logo, "Straight Shooter", printed on the sticker.  The businesses pay five bucks for the decal, display them in their windows, and agree not to raise their prices during any upcoming festivals and events.

"We'd like to welcome the tourists and shooters with open arms and let them know everything is done fairly year-round," said Alan Dyke, Public Affairs Coordinator for the city of Sparta.

Meanwhile, Toni Pautler admits this plan might not be too popular with all business owners, but she's still very much in favor of seeing decals like this plastered across town.

Toni works with the chamber and manages her own gift shop.

" Everyone here is here to make a profit, otherwise, we wouldn't be here, but we're also here to understand what this could mean for our area, that we work together in this capacity and it's something we can show we're doing," said Pautler.

The new World Shooting Complex won't be finished until next summer, but several smaller events will still go at the site, as early as this July.

While the events should bring hundreds of new customers to town, shop owner Heather Dierks hopes all managers follow what she calls "smalltown business practices."

She wants all other shop owners, like her, to become "straight shooters."

"How you help your business is by people trusting you and believing you, so we felt like there was no other option. We had to be apart of it," said Dierks.

Dierks and Paulter say they're not worried they’ll lose out on any profits by keeping their prices the same during events.  In fact, the Sparta Chamber got the Straight Shooter idea by learning from one city's failures.  Vandalia , Ohio used to be the home of the world shooting complex, and Sparta Chamber members say those Vandalia businesses turned away hundreds of people over time by engaging in price gouging.