OCEAN PARK, Wash. - Jack's Country Store has become creative.

To reshuffle the cards that have been stacked against Long Beach Peninsula gas stations throughout the years, Jack's owner, Tom Downer, has spent the past two years developing a fuel rewards program, providing local shoppers with an incentive to shop locally.

Starting this week, Jack's Country Store has publicly unveiled its Beach Bonus fuel discount rewards program, which offers savings at the gas pumps for in-store purchases.

Downer hopes that by establishing the fuel rewards program, his business - and others - can convince consumers that they don't have to go across the river to Oregon to buy gas, groceries or other household needs. So far, 1,707 customers have signed up.

"Fuel price is a drive as to where people shop," Downer said. "And it doesn't just hurt the vendors, but it hurts pharmacies, special services ..."

"And some people are willing to drive 30 miles to save a few cents on fuel!" said Jack's employee Christy Caruthers.

The rewards program is made possible through Supervalu, the store's main wholesaler, and will use the Internet-based Fueland system.

Norm Neike, the director of fuel marketing for Supervalu's northern region, said programs like Beach Bonus are convenient in that customers receive rewards as they make their purchases. There is no minimum amount a customer has to spend before reaping the benefits.

"The average customer saves 40 cents a gallon, and it's up to each person how much they want to save," said Neike.

Downer says people may consider Beach Bonus as a form of local currency that advocates for locally owned and locally based companies. And since he opted to make the program an "open network," Downer hopes that the incentives generate enough interest so that other Peninsula businesses jump on board.

For instance, in the near future, readers will be able to rack up a 1-cent- per-gallon fuel discount every time they purchase an issue of the Chinook Observer newsapaper at Jack's Country Store. As more merchants participate in Beach Bonus, more products will be eligible for fuel savings.

Merchants who would like to know more about participating in and helping to expand the Beach Bonus incentive program may contact Tom Downer at Jack's Country Store at (360) 665-4989.


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