Buy Local gift-certificate program aims to boost Grove City brick-and-mortar businesses

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Bill Chaffin, owner of Mojo on Broadway in Grove City, displays some of the merchandise in his store. Mojo on Broadway, 4094 Broadway, is one of the Grove City businesses that will participate in the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce's Buy Local gift-certificate program.

A new gift-certificate program is designed to help bring more customers to brick-and-mortar businesses in Grove City.

The Buy Local program is expected to launch in mid-November, said Shawn Conrad, executive director of the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber is administering the program and recruiting local businesses to participate, she said.

City Council on Sept. 21 approved appropriating $50,000 to fund the program.

"People will be able to stop by the chamber office (4069 Broadway) and purchase a gift certificate to one of the participating businesses, and they will get another certificate matching the amount," Conrad said. "So if you buy a gift certificate for $10, you'll get another $10 certificate you can use at that specific business.

"It's a two-for-one type of program," she said.

The chamber will develop a way for people to purchase the gift certificates online at the chamber website, gcchamber.org, Conrad said.

The gift-certificate program will benefit businesses, but it also will help residents, said Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage, who worked with council member Ted Berry and Conrad to develop the program.

"The primary focus of the program is to help revitalize our business community and keep money in our local economy," he said. "It's also going to help our residents who want to support their local businesses and don't want to have to drive out of town to shop or dine or get services." 

Gift-certificate programs are a growing trend, and many communities around the nation have created what often are called "chamber bucks" initiatives, Conrad said.

"We've been talking about starting a program like this in Grove City for a number of years," she said. "With the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it's had on so many of our local businesses, now really seemed like the right time for this program."

Many businesses had to shut down or reduce their operations due to the pandemic, Conrad said.

"This program will hopefully be a way to bring people back into the local brick-and-mortar stores," she said.

The gift certificates are expected to be available on or about Nov. 15, Conrad said.

The program is open to local businesses that are chamber members of good standing and that employ 20 or fewer people, she said.

"You have to be a business that operates out of a brick-and-mortar building, and it's not open to franchisees or chain businesses," Conrad said. "We want to help and support our  locally owned, small businesses. They've really taken a big hit during the pandemic."

Businesses throughout Grove City are eligible to participate, she said.

The mid-November start will allow customers to make use of the gift-certificate program as they begin their holiday shopping, Conrad said.

"The gift-certificate program is a way to give people more bang for their bucks," said Jodi Burroughs, a managing partner with Grove City Brewing.

Grove City Brewing signed up to participate "to support the chamber and out of appreciation for the way the chamber and city are stepping up to support our local businesses," she said.

"We're expecting this will provide a way to help give people a way to support their local businesses and also bring in new people who maybe haven't stopped in before," Burroughs said.

"It's an amazing idea. We're really excited to be part of it," said Bill Chaffin, owner of Mojo on Broadway, 4094 Broadway.

The gift-certificate program will be especially helpful as Mojo is establishing its new retail operation, Chaffin said. The business provides uniforms and other apparel for schools and teams, but now customers can stop by the new storefront to purchase Grove City and Central Crossing high school spirit apparel and other clothing items. The additional space on Broadway allowed Mojo to add its retail operation.

"We were in the process of going through the rezoning process with the city to move to our new location when the pandemic hit," he said. "It slowed us down a bit. We had been planning to open in July at the new location but didn't open there until September.

"It did give us some extra time to get the interior of the building ready to open to the public," he said.

The business operates out of a former home that was rezoned from residential to commercial zoning.

Mike Sanderson, owner of Sanderson Automotive Service, 3586 Broadway, said he wanted to participate in the program "to help bring more people into our shop."

Anything that can give a boost to small businesses is appreciated, he said.

"It's going to be interesting to see how many people participate in the program," Stage said. "Not only the number of businesses but the number of residents who use the gift certificates at a business."

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