Interview: A Modern Merchant Association Supporting Local Shopping

Here at CCV, we’re always on the lookout for examples of innovation and inspiration to share with our community. And recently, this search led us to something quite special.
Perched at a breathtaking altitude of around 1,200 metres, surrounded by the Swiss Alps, and with a population of just 1,500, the village of Les Diablerets boasts picturesque views, stunning ski slopes, and thriving seasonal tourism.
But it’s the story of ARCAD — a local merchant association aiming to boost commercial activity in the village year-round — that grabbed our attention.

To learn more, we spoke with Cécile DuBoeuf, the president of the association.

1. When did ARCAD start and what is the objective of the association?

We launched in June 2019.
The main objective of ARCAD is to bring together and strengthen ties between shopkeepers, restaurateurs, hoteliers, and craftsmen throughout the region to promote and safeguard their professional, economic and social interests.
Les Diablerets is a tourist area which, like other ski resorts, must continually reinvent itself as seasons change. We also face stiff competition from other resorts and holiday destinations and, like many other businesses, we’ve had economic and climate crises to contend with.
It’s, therefore, our responsibility to move with the times; we cannot wait for others to do that for us.

I hope that ARCAD will provide access to skills and resources to help our members face these challenges head-on for many years to come.

2. Where did the idea come from?

The idea for ARCAD was something we’d discussed on and off over the years. However, with Les Diablerets selected to host the alpine ski event for the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, we finally had the push we needed to unite our businesses.

And so ARCAD was born, combining the village’s merchant, restaurant & hotel, and construction associations. Together we are stronger – and more able to plan, support, and realise projects.

3. How many members do you currently have?

We’re growing fast and now count 110 members in total.

4. What are the benefits of being a member of ARCAD?

Our members see a tangible benefit of ARCAD working closely with the Tourism Office and the Commune. When it comes to the image and promotion of our village, we are frontline ambassadors. For the many who visit the village, we’re often the first people they meet.
Beyond this, we try to promote the association as much as possible, providing visibility for each member organization. We use social media actively, sharing local merchant promotions to a wider audience via our Facebook and Instagram channels, and also featuring everything that’s going on in the village.
We’ve also started to offer workshops to our members to help them grow and improve their businesses (our most recent one was about how to use social media effectively).

And, of course, we’ve been highlighting the need to shop local during the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing this idea by introducing tote bags (sold in several ARCAD member stores), gift cards that can be used in all member shops, and table sets for local restaurants.

5. Are you aware of any specific collaborations that came as a result of the ARCAD membership and its community?

At an organizational level, ARCAD has been supporting local initiatives such as Passeport Vacances and collaborating with La Jeunesse des Diablerets (a village youth organization).
In terms of members collaborating, it’s a little too early to tell. However, I have heard good things!
Our goal was to build a database of people and talent. And we’ve since discovered businesses we didn’t know existed. At our next “Assemblée Générale”, we’ll be able to discuss what has been done, what our members wish to do next, and how we can support them.

Overall, I think ARCAD has brought new energy and confidence to our local business scene, proving that together we can deliver great projects in Les Diablerets.

6. And what about the challenges presented by COVID-19? How did the village respond?

Although the COVID-19 crisis proved challenging, we saw some wonderful acts of solidarity, showing that a village can unite in the face of a dark period in history.
For example, when the shops closed during lockdown here in Switzerland, people took the opportunity to purchase our already-popular gift cards to support our members.
The Tourism Office and the Commune, meanwhile, worked closely together to communicate important health and safety information to our residents and the wider business community.

And a special mention for La Jeunesse des Diablerets, who leapt into action to help the older members of our community buy groceries and run errands.

CCV support local merchants

CCV’s vision is to be a true payment partner to your business. With over 60 years in the industry, we know the power of smart payment solutions. We also believe in being connected closely to our customers (some of course also located in Les Diablerets), which for us includes understanding your industry and environment. We hope you got inspired by how a community can help and boost the local economy as much as we have. If you are interested in a futureproof payment solution that fits your need, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Read more inspiring stories:

How to do business in corona times – Instagram musuem at 1.5 meters

here.

Gr8 Hotel: an innovative company with a modern payment solution

here.