The Gift Card program of the Chamber & Development Council (CDC) of Crawford County had a record year for sales during 2020, according to Evan Blakley, CDC executive director.
In 2019, which was a typical year for the program, the CDC sold $33,771 worth of gift cards; an average year sees sales between $30,000 and $40,000.
Sales of the gift cards more than doubled in 2020.
“In calendar year 2020, we sold $74,000 of gift cards,” Blakley said.
A total of 1,306 cards were sold.
“This is thanks to a lot of local folks wanting to support and sustain our local businesses and becoming even more aware of their importance due to the pandemic,” he said.
“We also had a number of businesses that chose to give essential worker bonuses, appreciation bonuses, and year-end bonuses in the form of our CDC gift cards; as a result of all of those factors we more than doubled 2019.”
Blakley said the overall goal of the program in any year is to provide a gift card that will keep dollars in the local business area, rather than sending them to businesses such as Amazon or Target.
“When you give one of these cards you know that those dollars will stay local,” he said. “It’s a benefit to our chamber (CDC) members; when they join they have the option to enroll in the program. It doesn’t cost anything beyond their normal dues.”
Blakley said the program is a good way to boost revenue for CDC members around the holidays or when special events, such as birthdays, graduations or weddings, take place.
“These are gifts you can give and feel truly good about for a couple of reasons: the recipient will get to purchase something that they want and/or need; and you know the gift you give is going to benefit businesses where your friends and neighbors work and that they depend on.”
The program started in the early 2000s with paper “Chamber Bucks,” but transitioned to the cards in 2008.
“The cards help us track where they’re spent more easily and make everything more convenient for the buyers and the recipients as well,” Blakley said.
Since the beginning of the gift card program, the CDC has sold $497,956 worth of cards.
“That’s a lot of cash that’s benefiting the community,” he said.
Blakley noted that recipients of the cards should take into account that the vendor in charge of the technical aspects of the cards will start taking monthly fees out one year after purchase.
“We don’t want that to happen, which is why we write the date on the card that we encourage you to spend it by,” he said. “It doesn’t do any of our businesses any good sitting in a drawer. If you have one of these cards, go find a local merchant to use it at. If you’ve given one of these cards, check with the recipient and make sure that they use it quickly as well.”
Funds that go unspent don’t do the community any good, he said.
“There are dozens of places where you can use these, whether it’s for a nice meal or for groceries or to buy something for your home, there are lots of ways that you can get out there and stimulate our economy right now,” Blakley said.
“Keep the gift card in mind; people like receiving the gift cards for local shopping and you’ll feel good giving this gift knowing it’s going to benefit your community.”
CDC gift cards can be purchased in any amount between $5 and $500.
For more information, contact the Chamber & Development Council at 712-263-5621 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.