Downtown Passport Program aimed at promoting shopping local in Cedar Rapids

Residents can get their passports stamped by shopping locally in Cedar Rapids

The 16th Avenue, 12th Avenue CRANDIC rail bridge and Eighth Avenue bridges cross the Cedar River, as seen from the top o
The 16th Avenue, 12th Avenue CRANDIC rail bridge and Eighth Avenue bridges cross the Cedar River, as seen from the top of Mount Trashmore on Tuesday, May 14, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linda McConnell, owner of the Basket Bowtique, 116 Third Ave. SE, said a tough winter made it hard for people to stop by the store, and now road work is making is difficult for consumers to enter the store or find nearby parking.

She hopes the Downtown Cedar Rapids Summer Passport program will encourage people to come out to shop.

The Passport program began Friday and will run until Sept. 23. People are encouraged to explore the downtown area and collect stamps on their “passports” from participating businesses and events for a chance to win prizes, a news release from the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance said.

In addition to giving out passport stamps, McConnell said the Basket Bowtique, in operation for 26 years, is offering 10 percent off to anyone who shows the passport in the store.

Jesse Thoeming, Cedar Rapids Downtown District executive director, said in the news release he hopes people look at this program as a sort of scavenger hunt to explore their community and go to places they may have never been before.

“It’s no secret this past winter served up challenges for small businesses in downtown Cedar Rapids and many saw lower-than-average sales due to hard weather conditions that kept consumers indoors,” he said in the release. “Some even had to close their doors for multiple days.”

Passports can be picked up at the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance office, 501 First St. SE; The Gazette, 500 Third Ave SE; or at any of the participating businesses. The passport must be completed and returned by 4 p.m., Sept. 23, with stamps from 12 of the businesses and at least two community events for a chance at the prizes.


The prizes will consist of a Cedar Rapids Staycation package with a dinner at Popoli Ristorante and Sullivans’ Bar, and a night in a Presidential suite at the DoubleTree by Hilton; a Country Music Fan package with two passes to the 2020 Country Thunder Music Festival in Forest City and a private party at Hazzard County Saloon in Cedar Rapids; and a Pamper package, which includes a night at Della Viti and spa services at Allure Skin, Body and Brows.

The prizes are valued at $1,000, $900 and $800, respectively.

The participating businesses and events include Balloons, Etc., Basket Bowtique, Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers’ Market, Cedar Rapids Public Library, Della Viti, Food Truck Fridays, Freedom Festival Fireworks, Gooselake Creations, Iowa Brewing Co., Kamal’s Flooring, Kieck’s Career Apparel, Market After Dark, Marie’s Jewelry, Pretty Lane, Rustic Chic Boutique, Simply Divine and Top Notch Boutique.

The Gazette is a sponsor of the program.

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