The popular Fenton eGift Card Program will continue on indefinitely.
Starting in December 2020 as a way to help businesses during the pandemic, this program allows the public to purchase egift cards through the Downtown Development Authority that can only be spent at participating Fenton businesses.
The public has purchased more than $830,000 of these gift cards.
“A lot of people will buy Visas that can be used anywhere, but with this, it ensures the dollars stay local. When someone chooses to purchase this gift card, they are ensuring that it will be spent in their community,“ said Chelsea Mills, owner of Behind Your Design. The DDA hired Behind Your Design for graphic design, marketing, to help businesses join the program and to help customers.
The city did two rounds of matching egift cards in the last year and a half. During the first round in December 2020, when someone bought a card valued at $25, $50, $75 or $100, they would receive another card with the same amount of money in a “buy one, get one,” or BOGO, deal.
During the second round which started in March 2021, buyers would receive a 50-percent match instead of a 100-percent match. They were limited to buying only five cards and these cards expired June 30, 2021.
To see which businesses are participating, click here.
“From what we could tell, it appears the program was very effective at getting cash into the local businesses that wanted to participate,” said Michael Hart, Fenton assistant city manager and DDA executive director. “It did what it was supposed to do.”
Matching funds came from the DDA. Hart said they had to cancel some events and expenditures due to the pandemic, and those funds went to the egift card program.
As of December 16, 2021, 10,188 egift cards were purchased. Of those egift cards, 3,428 were DDA 100% matching promo gift cards, and 1,520 were DDA 50% matching promo gift cards. Together, this is 4,948 gift cards that were issued as a part of the matching funds program.
Of these DDA cards, about 4,767 (96%) have been redeemed, which is a value of $348,503.
Of the 10,188 egift cards, 9,060 have been redeemed as of Dec. 16. Approximately 89% of all cards have been redeemed.
The total purchased card value is $832,437. The redeemed gift cards value is $725,982.
Approximately 87% of funds have been redeemed as of Dec. 16.
The program was also introduced as a way to help struggling people and families who fell on hard financial times due to the pandemic. Hart said it helped people afford Christmas presents and basic human necessities. It also helped local businesses stay open. One business, Marjie’s Gluten Free Pantry, closed during the pandemic because the owner retired.
“The DDA board in conjunction with the council wanted to do something that would be effective to help local businesses during the pandemic,” Hart said. “This was a way for people from the community to support local businesses and get actively engaged.”
People are still buying cards for various reasons and spending them at local businesses. “Even some businesses have purchased cards for their employees,” Hart said.
This winter, the DDA will consider doing another round of egift cards with DDA matching funds.
Other municipalities did similar campaigns modeled off Fenton’s program. Hart said they heard from these municipalities that Fenton had the quickest community engagement with the cards selling out.
“We were beside ourselves when we heard that,” he said.