Background: The economic slowdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic’s requirements for social distancing and self-isolation, is being felt around the globe. Many businesses around British Columbia have either revamped their level of service, pivoted their business model, or closed their brick and mortar locations. Those hardest hit are the local, independent businesses that are the backbone of our communities’ economic sustainability.
Think Local First (TLF), a membership-driven non-profit in Victoria, asked ‘How can we help local businesses during this time?’ In response, they created an initiative to support local, independent businesses who have temporarily closed their doors. The website SupportLocalYYJ (https://supportlocalyyj.com/) sells gift certificates for future use on behalf of those businesses. Think Local First member businesses who wanted to participate were initially added to the website but TLF has opened participation to any local, independent business in the region.
This initiative was a collaboration between TLF and Vancity and provided for businesses to receive the full value of the gift certificates purchased without the expense of payment processing costs. The aim was to provide an injection into their current cash flow. The intent was that gift certificates buyers would wait to use the cards one to two months after the pandemic had passed and businesses had re-opened their locations. “We don’t want to have businesses open their doors and be flooded with purchases by gift certificates which would only create another cash flow issue.” notes Steve Pearce, TLF Board of Director, President. “Gift certificate buyers could consider it as very early holiday shopping or purchase the certificates as gifts for special occasions in the future.”
Think Local First, the BC Economic Development Association, Love Northern BC and LOCO BC have created a working group as they all view this platform as a valuable way for businesses to have a cash flow injection during the COVID-19 pandemic. The working group created a strategy to roll it out to communities throughout the province. This initiative is called Support Local BC (http://supportlocalbc.com/).
Community Participation: Communities throughout BC are invited to participate on the platform. Each sponsoring organization or group of organizations within a community will assign a contact person for the Support Local BC office. They will also be the point of contact for reporting gift certificates sales. Communities and participating businesses are responsible for sharing their involvement in the platform via social media, traditional media, email newsletters, etc. This program will only provide value if we all share the message.
The below information was updated on 8 October 2021.
Community Investment: SupportLocalBC.com works on a cost-recovery model. The annual cost for a community with unlimited businesses to participate is $1,500. Starting 15 Oct 2021, transaction fees will be passed onto businesses by deducting them from their weekly payout. This is a cost recovery measure of the fees we are charged for each transaction - 2.9% + $0.30/transaction. So, a purchase of a $100 gift certificate will result in a payout to the business of $96.80.
Reporting: Community contacts will be provided with a monthly report outlining the number of gift cards sold per business and the total revenue earned.
Receiving Funds: Payments for revenues from gift certificates will be made by direct deposit via the secure service, SparcPay, on a weekly basis to each business. Businesses have access to a Duoplane business portal that allows them to manage and redeem gift certificates in real-time.
Interested in having your community join? Please complete our form if you would like to add your village/town/city to the website.