Dillsboro merchants will show their appreciation to customers on Friday, April 26, and Saturday, April 27, by offering special discounts and door prizes accessed exclusively through Dillsboro’s mobile web application.

Dillsboro merchants also will extend their store hours until 8 p.m. for the two days and will provide free refreshments from 5 to 8 p.m.

During the Dillsboro “App”reciation Days, customers can visit Dillsboro’s mobile website (dillsboroplaces.org) to view promotions and coupons. The mobile website is accessible via smartphone or computer and there is no downloading fee. The specials and discounts may be found under the promotions tab off the main menu and are available to everyone. Customers can show merchants their phones while they are in the stores or they can print out the promotions in advance.

In addition, those who use the app can enter to win an “Experience Dillsboro” promotional giveaway worth more than $500. The prize package includes a night’s stay at the Dillsboro Inn, a guided rafting trip for four from Dillsboro River Co., and food and gift certificates from Dillsboro merchants.

“App”reciation Days are part of an ongoing effort to promote Dillsboro and its new mobile website. Computer information systems students in Western Carolina University’s College of Business created the Dillsboro Mobile App. The prototype for the app was launched in March 2012 as part of events surrounding the installation of WCU Chancellor David Belcher.

Since that time, CIS and public relations students and faculty have worked together to develop the content and awareness of the app. App users can view pictures of the inside and outside of shops and restaurants, get Google Maps and turn-by-turn directions to each location, and be connected directly to businesses via phone or website.

The Dillsboro “APP”reciation Days promotion is an initiative of the Dillsboro/WCU partnership committee. With representatives from Dillsboro and WCU, the committee has worked since 2010 to strengthen the relationship between Dillsboro and WCU and to match the resources and expertise of WCU faculty, staff and students with Dillsboro’s challenges and opportunities.

Senior-level students in Betty Farmer’s public relations campaigns class are coordinating the “App”reciation Days. Team members include Jessica Duncan, Hannah Plemmons and Dee Turner. Funding for the promotion was provided in the form of a Quality Enhancement Plan grant.

“We are excited to see people come out to Dillsboro so merchants can show their appreciation to customers,” said Plemmons. “We hope all community members and tourists will check out the mobile website and Dillsboro on April 26 and 27 and take advantage of the specials and extended business hours.”

Merchants will donate a portion of their sales during the two days to Tree House Pottery co-owner Joe Frank McKee, whose home studio burned down last month.

A tourist town since the late 19th century, Dillsboro bills itself as “Your Front Porch to the Great Smokies,” Dillsboro is known for quality arts and crafts, and outdoor experiences.

For more information about the Dillsboro “App”reciation Days, contact Duncan at jmduncan4@catamount.wcu.edu.