A Connecticut startup that aims to make gifting easier and help small businesses thrive has expanded to Maryland, enabling residents and visitors from nearly 100 different cities across Maryland to take advantage of Maryland’s unique, hyperlocal gift cards. ‘business.
Giverrang, a relatively young Connecticut-based startup, recently rolled out community gift cards to 98 cities and towns across the state. They range from destinations like Baltimore, Annapolis, and Ocean City to lesser-known hamlets like Rock Hall, a town of 1,310 on the Chesapeake Bay, and Thurmont, a town in Frederick County just south of the Pennsylvania border. .
Gift cards work the same way as a prepaid Mastercard or Visa card, but with two important caveats: they only work in a certain area and can only be used at independent local businesses. The idea is to give a gift that will allow the recipient to keep their money within the community, while giving them the opportunity to visit different stores and try out small businesses that they may not have visited.
“It really takes the stress out of the gift giver because if they want to keep the money local, they’re just buying that one card,” said Mark Walerysiak Jr., program manager and company co-founder, alongside Giverrang Head of Product Roy Paterson.
This philosophy is the origin of the name Giverrang, a mixture of the words “give” and “boomerang”: when someone gives a community gift card as a gift, the money they spend goes back to their community like a boomerang. .
Giverrang Gift Cards uses technology to ensure a card is used in the correct place, then manages the business the card was used against against a comprehensive database of national chains: places like Walmart, Starbucks or Olive Garden. If the company is not on this list, the transaction will proceed normally, but if it is, the card will be declined.
“Basically, anyone else who is in (a given city) who is not a chain can accept the accusation,” Walerysiak said. “Hundreds of companies would be able to accept.”
The products are physical Mastercard gift cards emblazoned with the Giverrang logo, along with text indicating the city in which the card is valid, which are delivered within approximately seven days of purchase. The founders chose to use physical gift cards over digital because most, if not all, local businesses accept them as a form of payment, while some may not be as familiar with digital payments.
Walerysiak’s career prior to the launch of Giverrang was in the economic and community development space, and in those roles he saw or ran “every ‘local shop’ program you can think of”, hashtag campaigns on social media to Small Business Saturday, which is usually celebrated after Black Friday to convince consumers to spend money at independent businesses rather than big box stores.
But he found that these short-term programs and initiatives rarely had a meaningful impact on small businesses in the region.
“What bothered me was how to activate the other 364 days of the year and make local shopping permanent?” he said. “These independent businesses are truly the lifeblood of communities.”
The cards were Walerysiak and Paterson’s answer to that question, designed to entice people to shop locally year-round.
The founders have rolled out their gift cards in most US states and are now starting to partner with communities to find ways to expand their product’s reach even further. In one community, Walerysiak said, Giverrang is working to develop cards that will work specifically in local black-owned businesses, for example.
When it comes to its offerings in Maryland, Walerysiak is aware that not all cities in Maryland are included; he and Paterson choose which cities to deploy the maps to based on size and whether the city is incorporated, leaving out several of the state’s thriving communities, such as Columbia and Towson. But the founders say they can’t wait to add more sites.
“We would really love to hear from people who are local – if they’re looking for their map and it’s not there, let us know so we can create a map for the community,” Walerysiak said.