Isle of Wight county hopes gift card match using federal relief funds boosts region’s small businesses
Looking to shop local this holiday season but need a little extra incentive amid a global pandemic that might make one skittish about spending? Isle of Wight County and two of its towns are using federal COVID-19 relief funds to create a matching gift card program to help small businesses.
Isle of Wight County, Smithfield and Windsor have dedicated $100,000 worth of federal CARES Act funding to create the #IsleShopSmall program, led by Isle of Wight County Tourism and Economic Development and coordinated by the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce.
From 3 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 10 only, the chamber will sell gift cards to local participating businesses online at www.theisle.org or in person at the Smithfield Visitor Center, and will match each purchase dollar for dollar.
For example, for $20, a shopper will get a $40 gift certificate. Shoppers will be limited to buying no more than five gift vouchers costing $20 each.
Gift cards can be redeemed beginning Nov. 27, the Friday after Thanksgiving, and will expire Nov. 10, 2021. Businesses, though, will get the customer’s payment and the matching amount within two weeks, “when cashflow is most crucial,” according to a statement from the organizers.
The businesses must be locally-owned, for-profit enterprises that sell merchandise, food or a service in Isle of Wight County. Franchisees and licensees are included. Participating businesses can apply to join through Oct. 30 online at www.theisle.org. They don’t need to be members of the chamber.
Participating businesses must also agree to refund the full amount of the voucher back to the program if it can’t honor it, including if the business closes permanently. The county program would then refund the amount paid to the customer. It’s the only eligible reason for a refund.
If the $100,000 in matching funds doesn’t run out on Nov. 10, the organizers say a second shopping day will be arranged for Dec. 1 until all the funds are used.
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