The Hamilton Downtown Association is adding a new event called "Senior Saturdays" where many downtown Hamilton stores will be offering discounts and specials to seniors 50 years and older.

The event takes place the day after the HDA “Downtown Tonight” and the “Culture Crawl” events on the second Friday of every month.

Claire Kemp, executive director of HDA, said it is a nod to the older demographic of the Bitterroot Valley.

“We recognize that seniors are a huge market here and this is a nice way to show them some appreciation. It is good for businesses as well,” Kemp said. “The inspiration for this came from Dominic [Farrenkopf] of Sapphire Lutheran Homes. He said he’s always looking for activities for seniors to do on Saturdays.”

Kemp organized “Senior Saturdays” and Hamilton businesses quickly agreed to the idea.

“The funny part, and I hope people can chuckle, is that 50 is not really senior,” Kemp said. “My committee said the AARP calls 50 senior and it is just that many more people who can participate. Hopefully, when you go into the store and ask for the senior discount you can say it with a chuckle and enjoy that discount.”

Farrenkopf, director of community life at Sapphire Lutheran Homes, said he is excited that the stores are making sale discounts for seniors.

"Our residents enjoy sales shopping, as do most people,” he said. “It makes them feel nice that downtown is giving this a try. We are offering our residents shuttles to downtown on Senior Saturday to make it even easier for them to get to the stores. I'm hoping that other seniors in our area head downtown for the deals, too."

Mercedes Tiller, a resident of Sapphire, said she is looking forward to the downtown shopping.

"I'm looking for some bargains,” Tiller said. “I don't really need a lot but it sure helps that the downtown stores are doing this for us."

Gerry Sitko also lives at Sapphire and is signed up to go shopping this Saturday.

"This is good news for us,” Sitko said. “We like to be a part of downtown and I like to shop local. I occasionally like to treat myself to anything from a new pair of jeans to just a pop. I'm going to Senior Saturday with my friend and I'm looking forward to it. We might even decide to have lunch downtown."

Farrenkopf said participating downtown stores helps with the Sapphire Lutheran Homes mission of caring for seniors.

“That is important to me," he said.

Participating businesses include: Robbins on Main, Robbins Too, Bitterroot Drug, Main Street Toys, Stone Cottage, Mikesell’s Jewelry, Chapter One Book Store, Neff’s Flooring, Bitter Root Brewery, Big Sky Candy, The Closet, Montana Bliss Artworks, Ravalli County Museum, The Wine Cave, River Rising and Hamilton Gifts.

Each business defines their own senior discount.

Mara Luther, co-owner of Chapter One, said their sale is a free used book for each senior on Senior Saturdays.

“We are excited about it because I think it is time Hamilton figures out what kind of community we want to be,” Luther said. “We want to be one that is welcoming and available to its largest demographic. We are a retirement community and we need to embrace that large segment of our community.”

Bitterroot Drug and Main Street Toys owners Pete and Jeni Seifert said they are offering 10 percent off purchases storewide in both stores for Senior Saturdays.

“It’s a great idea and we look forward to it,” Pete Seifert said.

“Seniors are a vital part of our community and Senior Saturdays are a small way to show them our appreciation and gratitude,” Jeni Seifert said. “This day creates the opportunity to build stronger connections with our seniors and display what Hamilton has to offer.”

Kemp said she hopes “Senior Saturdays” is a big success.

“We are always finding new and creative ways to encourage local shopping and appreciate our community,” Kemp said.