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Stimulate Bemidji: Let the sales begin

The second phase of an economic stimulus package sponsored by the Bemidji Pioneer begins early Friday morning.

Starting at 8 a.m., readers can purchase shopping cards through the Pioneer that can be used to buy goods and services at more than 60 area businesses.

The shopping cards are being sold to readers at a discount of 20 to 50 percent off the original price, but customers will receive the full-dollar benefit when they take those cards to the business to go shopping.

For example, one card that has a $50 shopping value at a local store can be purchased for just $35 from the Pioneer. The value of the shopping cards ranges from $5 to $500, depending on the type of business.

A list of all available cards and their prices was published in Wednesday's edition of the Pioneer.

In the first phase of the "Stimulate Bemidji" promotion, businesses offered special prices in an advertising section that ran in the Pioneer last month.

"The participating businesses thought this was a great promotional idea, a way to get some business flowing," said Jeff Halverson, advertising manager for the Pioneer.

More than 800 shopping cards will be available. Purchases can by made by shopping online through the Pioneer's Web site: or by stopping at the Pioneer office at 1320 Neilson Ave. S.E., Bemidji. No phone orders will be taken.

The project was designed to help businesses through the economic crunch and stimulate the local economy.

Shopping online for the cards will be easy. Just go to the Pioneer's Web site and click on the shopping card promotion area. At 8 a.m. Friday, the selection of cards will be visible and can be added to a shopping cart.

Before Friday, participants are encouraged to pre-register in order to make their shopping process quicker and more convenient.

Individuals without Internet access can make their purchases at the Pioneer office.

Sales will not begin until 8 a.m. Friday.