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To Help Boost Local Businesses, Libertyville Auto Dealers Giving Away Gift Certificates With Car Sales

CHICAGO (CBS) -- One northern suburb is getting creative to boost the economy. If you buy a car in Libertyville, you'll get some money to keep shopping around town.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas shows us how it works.

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's owned a gift shop on Milwaukee Avenue for 14 years as of this week.

'"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 mayor's office came up with a plan. Anyone who buys a new car in Libertyville can now 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," Mayor Terry Weppler said.

If this plan sounds familiar, it's because Libertyville has done it before. They first used the certificates in 2009 during the Great Recession.

If you live in Libertyville, you 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, with 12 dealerships around town, the village rakes in $4.4 million per 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, for each gift certificate given out, they will also donate $100 to charities that are helping people in need right now. The program lasts all month.

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