You’ve probably seen them in storefronts around town: big, red kiosks offering coupons and raffle tickets. But you probably didn’t know that by buying a raffle ticket you’re helping local non-profits like the Skagway Arts Council.
Brother and sister team Olivia and Greg Klupar started the project in 2014. They held a raffle on behalf of the Arts Council and raised $800 for the non-profit with a grand prize of $500.
“That was our test year,” Olivia said. “To see how it works and how people interacted with it.”
Community interest was positive, but the duo had bigger ambitions.
This June they launched Alaska Community Partners, LLC, and installed 15 kiosks in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan with the intention of helping non-profits throughout Southeast Alaska.
Greg, 26, designed the kiosk and its software, while Olivia, 27, is in charge of the business. Together the two have made a cohesive team, and she said it’s going surprisingly well.
“We complement each other in the best way,” Olivia said.
But despite their successful teamwork, state regulations made the venture more difficult than expected. Selling lottery tickets from unmanned kiosks was a bit of a grey area. The team was denied a permit in 2015, but with the help of Rep. Sam Kito III, the Department of Revenue added language to Gaming Regulation 15 AAC 160.671, which allowed the sale of raffle tickets from vending machines.
The new regulation went into effect May 25 and ticket sales began on June 10.
“We ran into so many challenges,” Olivia said. But with each insurmountable challenge, they persevered.
The duo came up with the idea because they saw a need and an opportunity. Growing up in Skagway, Greg and Olivia were directly involved with the Skagway Arts Council.
“We saw them doing all of this wonderful work, but looking to expand and bring year-round projects to Skagway,” she said. And then she saw cruise ship passengers wanting to spread the wealth.
“It’s something they want to do. They enjoy being connected,” she said.
The pair traveled to Florida last winter in the hopes of future development. Olivia said she hopes to work more closely with the ships themselves in an effort to engage the cruise ship passengers.
“We see that there’s a big need by the cruise industry to connect more locally,” she said. “We see a mutual benefit.”
The kiosk offers raffle tickets for the Skagway Arts Council, and the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council will soon be added in to the mix. The Klupars hope to extend to more non-profits in the near future.
Tickets cost $5, with a grand prize of $1,000. The winner will be announced on Oct. 2 and need not be present to win.
SAC Vice President Dottie Demark said the arts council has been in support of the idea since its origin and is hopeful that they will see funds after this year.
“I don’t think [the funds] have been targeted with anything specific but we would put it toward the scholarships that we give locally and hopefully be able to increase the events that we’re sponsoring and presenting to the community,” she said.
The kiosks do not offer raffle tickets alone. Printable coupons provide further incentive to participate.
The machines were becoming costly to build and maintain, and so the pair looked for a way to fund the venture without going bankrupt. Coupons proved successful.
While paper coupons can be printed at the machines, shoppers can also text SHOPPING to 24587, which will then send a link to alaskacommunitypartners.com/coupons. The site is filled with shops, vendors and local tour companies, offering discounts, free items and contact info for all participating businesses.
As an extra incentive, businesses with a kiosk in their storefront have been offering coupons with the purchase of a raffle ticket.
At the Skagway Inn, participants can purchase an Alaskan Pint glass for $1. Each location has a unique discount.
“What we found is that it drives traffic to people’s store,” Olivia said. “People support local businesses and local non-profits.”
One-hundred percent of the net proceeds will go to non-profits like the SAC and JAC. Olivia said she hopes the extra income will help the council bring in more winter activities and more bands to Dedman Stage.
“This is a massive opportunity for non-profits in remote areas to gain access to larger pools,” she said.
This winter, Olivia plans to receive her Masters Degree in business. She hopes to take their idea to larger universities as a way to get more resources.
“We want to establish a network of kiosks through the state, that allow the non-profits everywhere to benefit,” she said. “We’re hopeful that this will become a solid sustainable business for us.”
Skagway kiosks can be found inside Gold Rush Gifts, Historic Skagway Inn, Lynch & Kennedy, Skagway Mining Co. and the White Pass and Yukon Route depot.