If you are looking for a new way to promote your town, shopping district or mall as a shopping destination, a shared gift card may be a good option.  We’ve recently created one to help Monroe Street, the part of Madison, WI where our shop is located, survive a year of roadwork. And we sold an impressive $7,500 worth of cards the month it launched.

The program we’re using is called Instagift, although there are undoubtedly other competing companies worth considering.  Instagift does offer paper certificates, but it is predominately app-based.  Anyone with a smart phone can use all or part of their Monroe Street eGift card at any participating business, and the business will receive 100% of the amount of the purchase. Not only is there no service charge, but the company also provided some bonus cards to help us create excitement around the program.

The reason this is possible is that many people don’t use up their gift cards, which means that the program selling the card gets to hold onto the surplus.  In the case of a community card such as ours, the businesses on the street only get the money when the consumer chooses to spend it.  That may or may not be while we’re torn up for the roadwork, of course.  However we feel that offering a community-wide card will be worth continuing as part of our ongoing joint promotional efforts.

Selling a gift card for your own shop allows you to hold onto any unused balance — and according to MarketWatch, $1 billion in gift cards are unredeemed each year.  So of course it makes sense to promote your own gift cards first. But a community card can be an effective way to bring new shoppers to your area, and hopefully also to your store.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder