Local Companies Seek to Strengthen Community by Rewarding Voters
With voter turnout historically low and stakes high, several local businesses tried to do their part to get patrons to the polls.
Patrons to Vive Juicery boasting an “I Voted!” sticker get 10 percent off of their purchase total, the shop’s attempt to reward those who had done their civic duty, said owner Brittany Shimmin.
“This election is so important for so many reasons—for the first time in ever, Utah is a swing state, so every little voice matters. I really want to encourage people to get out, do their civic duty, be an active part of the community,” she said.
Shimmin noted that community participation is built into the foundation of the business, which was funded by a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. Encouraging and rewarding voting continues that connection to community, she said.
“Being involved in the election and voting just plays into that. We’re cultivating the kind of environment, the kind of community that we want to live in, and your vote’s your voice. We want people to be heard. If we can provide a little incentive to get them there, to brave the lines—then, absolutely!” she said. “I definitely know for me, this morning, it was definitely a bit of an experience getting through that. But it was also really inspiring just to see how many people were there and excited. You could feel the energy buzzing. We just want to encourage people to be part of that.”
Publik Coffee Roasters and The Front Climbing Gym collaborated on an offer for patrons of their respective establishments. The first 25 people with their sticker to order at Publik were given a free day pass for The Front, and the first 25 sticker-bearing climbers at The Front got a voucher for a free drink at Publik.
Missy Greis, owner of Publik, said when she was approached by The Front for the exchange, it was an easy decision to get involved. There’s a lot of crossover in clientele between the two businesses, she said. The point wasn’t to promote any candidate over another, but to encourage customers to simply vote.
“As a company, we don’t get political. Everyone has a right to their opinion and their candidate. But I think any election, especially this one, we wanted to encourage people to vote. It doesn’t matter how you vote, just vote. This is the election where it could be potentially that we experience voter apathy,” she said. “Whether people were going to vote anyway and come in, that’s fine, but maybe we did motivate a couple of people. Just using Instagram, I think we have 10,000 followers and of course some of those aren’t in Utah—and I don’t know how many the Front has, but I think our reach is enough to make a difference.”
Anna Wright, events and community outreach coordinator at The Front, said they often see the same people multiple times a week, which allows employees and climbers to recognize and get to know each other. Because of this dialogue, they’ve been able to encourage customers to get out and vote, she said.
“It was a community connection, being able to talk to our members and say: ‘hey, did you vote?’ We know a lot of our members here, and lots of us, we see them every other day or once or twice a week. It’s just having that interaction and providing them a little bit of a reward for voting. It’s something that, as a culture, we believe in, being a part of the community,” she said.
Another The Front employee, Zac Robinson, noted that besides general voter apathy, many of their customers are recent transplants from out of state, and haven’t always registered to vote or feel that they have a voice in the state.
“Most of my friends that I’ve met here are transplants to Salt Lake, so it was helping them, making a point to get them registered to vote, get them interested in local politics. Also, most of our members here are all into outdoor recreation, whether it’s in Little Cottonwood or down in Moab or taking advantage of our public lands, but there’s a lot of politics that get wrapped in with that,” he said. “I think the apathy comes from the challenges from being from out of state and being a transplant. If you look at any of the demographics, typically younger people are less likely to be registered to vote and less likely to go out and vote. We’ve got a younger crowd here. So we’re making sure folks are aware of that.
“I’ve got friends reminding me all week that you can register to vote and vote on the same day. I think that’s really good to know and spread that word,” he added. (Salt Lake County and a few other counties do allow voter registration on Election Day, although voters should check with their county clerk’s office to make sure.) “I’m sure a lot of people go up to the door and say ‘I’d love to go get a free coffee, but I’m not registered to vote!’ Well, cool—you can go to your polling place, get registered to vote and vote right now, and come back, and we’ll give you a free coffee.”