The Fenton eGift Card program continues indefinitely |  News for Fenton, Linden, Holly Me

The Fenton eGift Card program continues indefinitely | News for Fenton, Linden, Holly Me

The popular Fenton eGift card program will continue 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 over $830,000 of these gift cards.

Many people will buy visas that can be used anywhere, but with this said, they ensure that the dollars stay in the local market. When someone chooses to purchase this gift card, Chelsea Mills, owner of Behind Your Design, said they are guaranteed to spend it in their community. The Department of Disarmament Affairs hired Behind Your Design for graphic design and marketing to help companies join the program and to assist clients.

The city has done two rounds of egift card matching in the past year and a half. During the first round in December 2020, when someone buys a card for $25, $50, $75 or $100, they will get another card with the same amount of money in a “buy one, get one” or BOGO deal.

During the second round that began in March 2021, buyers will get a 50 percent match instead of 100 percent. They were limited to buying only five cards and they expired on June 30, 2021.

“From what we can tell, the program appears to have been very effective in getting money from local businesses that wanted to participate,” said Michael Hart, assistant city manager for Fenton and executive director of DDA. “You did what you were supposed to do.”

The match money came from DDA. Hart said they had to cancel some events and expenses because of the pandemic, and that money went into the egift card program.

As of December 16, 2021, 10,188 eGift cards have been purchased. Among the egift cards, 3,428 were 100% DDA-matched promotional gift cards, and 1,520 were 50% DDA-matched promotional gift cards. Together, 4,948 Gift Cards were issued as part of the Matching Chests Program.

Of these DDA cards, about 4,767 (96%) were recovered, a value of $348,503.

Of the 10,188 EGFT cards, 9,060 have been redeemed as of December 16. Almost 89% of all cards have been redeemed.

The total value of the card purchased is $832,437. The value of the redeemed gift cards is $725,982.

Nearly 87% of the funds have been recovered as of December 16.

The program was also introduced as a way to help people and families experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic. Hart said she helped people buy Christmas gifts and basic human necessities. It also helped local businesses stay open. One business, Marjie’s Gluten-Free, has closed during the pandemic because the owner has retired.

“The DDA, along 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 involved.”

People still buy cards for various reasons and spend them at local businesses. “Even some companies have bought cards for their employees,” Hart said.

This winter, the DDA will consider conducting another round of egift cards with DDA matching funds.

Other municipalities have conducted similar campaigns along the lines of the Fenton Program. Hart said they heard from these municipalities that Fenton had the fastest community involvement with the card sale.

“We were by our side when we heard that,” he said.

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