Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce has introduced a new Gift Card to support businesses and make local shopping easy, made possible following funding from the Canadian government.
Over 100 businesses across three Chamber areas, Yarmouth, Barrington and Clare, are part of the Southwest Nova Gift Card, including retail, hotels, restaurants, breweries and experiences. Gift Cards can be spent like a debit card right across the South West area.
Rick Allwright, Executive Director of Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce said: “The Southwest Nova Gift Card is the latest phase of our campaign to encourage locals to Love Yarmouth, support our neighbours and celebrate our community. With one Southwest Nova Gift Card, residents can give the gift of choice, and the recipient can choose all kinds of local gifts with their Gift Card.
“As a Chamber, we’ve been wanting to introduce a Gift Card program for some time. In the pandemic, it became even more vital as a means to support our businesses out of covid. One of the main criteria was to make it as easy as possible for our businesses to accept the Gift Card, so we disregarded the idea of a paper gift certificate and went straight for a high tech solution. Merchants receive the Southwest Nova Gift Card like any other card payment, and many types of businesses can register to receive the Gift Card as payment, even if they’re not a member of one of the three Chambers.
“We’ll be working alongside tourism organizations to bring the Southwest Nova Gift Card to visitors. There are a lot of medium sized businesses in the area who will be able to use the Gift Card for their employees.”
A restaurant that accepts the new Southwest Nova Gift Card is Gaia Global Kitchen. Hannah Rhyno-Milot is the co-founder and general manager of Gaia Global Kitchen and says that small businesses continue to need support from the community:
“Our restaurant is a family owned, full service licensed restaurant that features globally inspired dishes from around the world, with many celiac safe and vegan options. The pandemic has been very hard on our business, as with many in our field. As well as the loss in sales for the weeks and months we closed or limited our hours, we have also faced shortages in labor, increased costs on food, spending on PPE, and increased stress. The one positive impact we have seen has been within our team, this experience has really made us pull together and we have seen so many team members step up, take responsibility and give their all to ensure we survive as a business.
“The Southwest Nova Gift Card will help us by reminding the public how important it is to keep supporting local small businesses. We need to keep the message out there that if you have a choice between a big box store or chain restaurant and a local option, choosing to spend those dollars in a local shop or restaurant helps all of us because the money stays in our communities.
“Now more than ever we are grateful for every person that walks through our door, every dollar spent helps us keep our staff working, and it helps all of our local suppliers too. There is definitely a ripple effect, as we source our produce, beer, wine and food from local suppliers. After 2 years of pandemic, we are all hanging on, trying to keep the bills paid and hour staff working, we need all the support we can get.”
A retail and service business which accepts the new Southwest Nova Gift Card is salon, spa and fashion boutique The Style Merchant, Krista Smith is the founder of The Style Merchant:
“We offer a head to toe experience under one roof, from hair to spa services, professional beauty products and a full shopping emporium of clothing, footwear and accessories. Although the pandemic has had a negative financial impact, due to closures and new regulations, there has also been some positives such as pushing us to rethink how we can do business differently. We have increased our online and social media presence to keep our customers engaged and excited about our products and services so they don’t forget about us.
“I believe the Southwest Nova Gift Card will give people an incentive to shop local and keep more money in our local areas and businesses, hopefully mine being one of them! All small businesses need local support now more than ever before. This has been a difficult time to go through and still remain open and we are very appreciative to all our customers who support us both in the past and also in the future! If it were not for the support of our customers our doors would not be open.”
The technology for the Southwest Nova Gift Card is provided by fintech Miconex in association with international payments technology solutions provider EML Payments. Miconex operates its Downtown Gift Card concept in Canada and the US, and over 100 Town and City Gift Card programs in the UK and Ireland.
Southwest Nova Gift Cards are available to buy online and from the Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce office, from $20 to $500.