Milford Chamber and local businesses team up for gift card program

MILFORD – As people begin to visit local stores to start their holiday shopping, the Milford Chamber of Commerce has launched a program to create a clear path to support local businesses.

“I think overall people are looking forward to their shopping again, and I think the online services that people have become accustomed to during COVID are going to continue to be used,” said Simon McDonald, chief marketing officer of the Milford Chamber of Commerce.

“I think there is a lot of pent-up demand to be in the holiday spirit as the Delta variant has started to decline and we are starting to see more and more regulations being lifted when it comes to COVID protocols,” he said. added McDonald. “I think we’re going to see a pretty robust shopping season here at the mall where our office is located and the other shopping areas in Milford.”

The program is called the I Love Local Gift Card Program and, depending on the chamber, its goals are to increase dollars spent at physical stores in the Milford area, encourage dining at local restaurants, provide Milford residents and businesses with a pathway to support local businesses, create a mechanism for employer recruiting / incentive rewards in addition to individual shoppers, and promote the Milford area as a destination for dining, shopping and shopping. entertainment.

“It’s a gift card program, people can come into the room to buy gift cards and they can be used at local merchants,” McDonald said. “It’s our way of defending local merchants against online giants. “

He added that they will be offering the gift card program to all chamber members as well as regional businesses.

“This is a program that has worked in other markets of a similar type. can support local businesses, ”McDonald said.

Depending on the chamber, businesses sign up to participate, cards are purchased by individuals or businesses, the card is presented and redeemed at local businesses, and redemption reports are executed and paid for on a regular basis.

“It gives consumers a way to participate in the local economy while also providing something for someone they don’t know as well,” McDonald said. “When you don’t know someone well, you usually buy them an Amazon gift card or a Visa card, it’s been like that forever. Now we have the I Love Local card that gives them the same kind of gift. , but just use it locally.

So far, nine companies have signed up to participate in the I Love Local program, but McDonald’s expects to quadruple the number of participating establishments by the start date. As of now, participating companies are Silver Sands Pizza, Convenience Junction, Clothesline Laundromat, Beach Party Balloons, SM Photography, Milford Performance Center, Valerio Tax Edge and Bohemian High.

“For me this is a great idea because it helps Milford’s money stay local, and I know the other companies in the chamber are great so I know all of the companies that are involved, people can be sure of it. ‘get good quality products and services just like mine, and I’m proud to be able to participate,’ said Melissa Bertran, owner of Beach Party Balloons.

Bertran said she decided to join the program because it was a flexible program and the fees were reasonable.

“It’s very simple, and the fees were reasonable up to the point of accepting it. It’s going to cost me the same as processing a credit card, ”she said. “This is a program to benefit local businesses who participate, while also supporting the chamber.”

“When you buy one of them, it has to be used in specific companies, it gives the buyer flexibility, but it always encourages them to use it locally because it is the only option”, Bertran added. “I think this would be a great gift for someone who lives in Milford and would like to try out a local business that they might not otherwise have.”

For Bertran, the marketing aspect of the I Love Local program is another reason she decided to get involved in the program and believes it will help local businesses grow.

“First of all, it gives people the opportunity to learn more about businesses that they didn’t know before, and also to try out a business that they thought they would use but didn’t have the opportunity to do. ‘opportunity to use it, ”she said. “So as a gift, they might have the opportunity to try this, and it might become their favorite place. “

“The bedroom has been a great resource for my business, and it has really helped me grow and connect with other business owners and customers in my community,” added Bertran. “I like that they take a proactive approach, creating these kinds of programs.”

Glory Krouch, owner of Bohemian High, said it was good for both the chamber and the business.

“As a member, I benefit from marketing with little or no cost to my business,” she said. “While the processing fee is a bit higher than my credit card fee, it broadens my reach to customers who might not otherwise be familiar with my store. As a community of businesses using the I Love Local gift card program, I am able to take responsibility for promoting this program to other local businesses.

Krouch said when the chamber approached her with the program, she thought it was a great idea as it helps support local businesses.

“As a little mom and pop boutique, especially in these tough times, we were financially affected and had to cut our advertising budget,” she said. “The opportunity allows us to continue with other means of advertising while benefiting from our chamber affiliation with this program.”

The chamber is preparing that schedule for this holiday season, McDonald’s said the tentative date for I Love Local gift cards to be ready is Halloween weekend.

“Consumers will need to purchase it through the online room or at the room desk, and it can be used at any of the participating merchants,” he said. “If they contact us and we don’t have the maps yet, then we’ll take the conversation where it needs to go.”

McDonald’s said businesses have already started preparing for the holiday season.

“It’s the second week of December, that’s when he starts to get really, really busy at the mall,” he said. “The rest of my small traders are sourcing now because everyone knows they need to get things now and can’t wait until the last minute especially with all the issues people have with importing and shipping. transport. “

“People are getting ready for the holiday season as we speak and you will start to see it in the next few weeks,” McDonald added.

The new gift card program is also the chambers’ way to remind people that local businesses are the people who help the community.

“I know it’s a meme, but when you buy something from Amazon you’re helping someone buy their vacation home or whatever, but if you’re buying from a local business you’re helping their kid to take dance lessons or someone to sponsor your kids’ baseball team, ”said McDonald. “It’s our way of trying to help the community through business, and business tends to help the community. “

For the House, I Love Local is a long-term program, even though they are launching them for the holidays, they are hoping people will buy them as birthday gift cards, worker appreciation cards, and other special events.

“These will always be available and, in my opinion, we should have them for the next 20 years, assuming all goes well,” McDonald said.

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