Partner Launches an Easy Way to Spend, Gift and Support Local Businesses

Think Iowa City, our local convention and visitors bureau partner, has announced the launch of a community-based digital gift card program to promote local spending this holiday season.

“Our local merchants, restaurants, hotels, and attractions deserve our support now more than ever,” said Josh Schamberger, President of Think Iowa City. “This program is a no-brainer. It costs the merchant nothing to participate and, thanks to a generous sponsorship from MidWestOne Bank, there are no fees to the consumer during the holiday season.”

The gift card operates on a digital platform, which means there is no traditional plastic card. Recipients receive an email or text message with the gift card information. The participating merchant or restaurant then processes the card over their credit card network like they would with an over-the-phone transaction. This reduces costs, reduces training time, and keeps more dollars local.

“We looked at a variety of programs and decided to partner with Yiftee who has been successful in similar programs in Nashville, Seattle, and Austin. It’s not an app, so it’s universal in how it can be used. The program is future-forward and something our community has been wanting for many years,” said Schamberger.

Participating businesses in Johnson County must sign up to be able to accept the gift card. It is a simple process and includes training and promotional materials. Businesses should contact Think Iowa City to register.

A study published by Civic Economics points out that local independent retails recirculate 47 percent of their revenue back into the community, while only 14% of national chains’ revenue stays in the community. More dramatically, restaurants recirculate 73 percent of their revenue back into the community, versus only 30 percent for national chains. Consumers budget 35 percent of of their holiday spending towards the purchase of gift cards.

“You can purchase a gift card for your friends, family or employees this holiday season and be confident that the money will stay local…all while providing versatility in the offering,” said Schamberger.

Digital gift cards may be purchased at starting Nov. 8, 2021.

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