Back in May, Mecklenburg County Tourism, Chase City Chamber of Commerce, Clarksville Chamber of Commerce and the South Hill Chamber of Commerce joined together to create a joint initiative called “Chambers in Action” (CIA) in an effort to assist local businesses during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The CIA quickly launched a successful gift card matching program that was open to all locally-owned, non-franchise, retail, restaurant and service-based businesses in Mecklenburg County. The first round of the Gift Card Matching Program was sold out in mere hours, netting a total of $44,000 for local businesses.
Tina Morgan, Mecklenburg County Tourism Coordinator, remarked, “We had $22,000 to use as a matching fund in that first round, and in just under two hours, it was all gone! Not only was that an amazing display of support by consumers willing and ready to shop local, but putting $44,000 into the hands of our local businesses made a real difference to those who were supported. Some were able to instantly pay rent they had fallen behind on while others were able to replenish inventory and forge ahead for a while longer.”
The second round of this program debuted on September 8 and officially sold out Friday, October 9: just over a month. This second round had a total of $100,000 available to be matched, meaning $200,000 went towards local businesses. To date, the CIA has put $244,000 dollars back into the Mecklenburg County community through their successful Gift Card Matching Program.
Don’t get down if you missed out on the first two rounds; Round 3 will start on Tuesday, November 17 with another $100k to match. Local businesses have through November 3 to sign up to be a part of the program.
As a refresher, this program will match each purchase, dollar-for-dollar, for as long as the matching fund lasts. That means that for each $20 unit purchased, the customer receives a $40 gift certificate to be redeemed when the time is right, and the business receives that $40 now, when cashflow is most crucial. Businesses who sign up are required to agree to a set of terms and conditions for participation. Vouchers will expire one year after purchase. Individuals and organizations wishing to contribute to the matching fund are invited to contact Tina Morgan at Mecklenburg County Tourism to do so (434-738-6191).
The online store will go live for customers to shop on November 3 at 6p.m. Just visit www.VisitMeckVa.com/ShopLocal and click the store icon to shop. Here, customers will be able to find gift cards for participating businesses in the amount of $20 each. Customers will be allowed a $100 purchase limit in order to allow the funds to stretch across more businesses and more customers. To redeem any voucher, customers will be given a unique code that they can print out and present at the time of payment. Morgan includes, “If you do not have a way to print the vouchers, you can forward them to your local Chamber of Commerce, who will print them out for you. Each business will be provided with a record of each purchase, to keep on file until the voucher is redeemed.”
The platform for the online store is made possible by Virginia’s Growth Alliance, a regional economic development group, who had the site developed for retail businesses to use for free. Any business interested in selling online (for free) can visit www.ShopLocalVGA.com.