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 is a collaboration between TLF and Vancity and provides for businesses to receive the full value of the gift certificates purchased without the expense of payment processing costs. The aim is to provide an injection into their current cash flow. The intent is that gift certificates buyers will wait to use the cards one to two months after the pandemic has passed and businesses have 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, Vancity, the BC Economic Development Association 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 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 and revenues. 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.
Community Investment: SupportLocalBC.com works on a cost-recovery model that provides funding to cover payment processing and administration costs so that businesses receive the full value of the gift certificates purchased. The cost to setup a new community with 100 businesses is $250. Each additional 25 businesses is $72. There is also an investment of $1,025 for transaction and payment processing fees based on the anticipated sale of 1,000 x $25 gift cards ($25,000). So, each community with 100 businesses needs to invest $1,275 to participate.
Reporting: Community contacts will be provided with a bi-weekly 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 on a weekly basis to each business. Businesses have access to a 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.