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Deputy Erie County Executive Maria Whyte addresses the media.
Deputy Erie County Executive Maria Whyte addresses the media.

Buy local campaign, Shop 716 gift card to boost Erie County small businesses

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Wed, Nov 11th 2020 09:55 am

Phase II of back to business program promotes & stimulates local small businesses, gears up for holiday shoppers with buy-one-get-one gift card promotion; advertising campaign

#shop716challenge promotes local biz

Shop 716 eGift card alone is estimated to produce nearly $1 million in new revenue for Erie County businesses

Building on the success of the popular Erie County Back to Business Grant Program, a $20 million direct investment in eligible local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Erie County Business Task Force is partnering with Visit Buffalo Niagara, the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and the NFTA to promote local businesses and stimulate economic activity prior to the holidays. 

Phase two of the program will stimulate local business with a buy local advertising campaign and the Shop 716 eGift card program to encourage holiday shopping at independent Erie County businesses while supporting Erie County merchants in what is traditionally their busiest time of the year. The Shop 716 eGift card will utilize a buy one, get one free ($25) promotion to amplify the economic impact of the program. The card promotion is estimated to create nearly $1 million in new revenue for county businesses.

Deputy Erie County Executive Maria Whyte was joined at the announcement at the historic Aurora Theater in East Aurora by A.J. Baynes, president and CEO of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce; Patrick Kaler, president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara; Aurora Theater owner Lynn Kinsella; and representatives from the NFTA, National Grid and Erie County Business Task Force.

Whyte said, “When you buy local, you are supporting small business owners and their families, keeping dollars here in our community and building a stronger local economy. Let’s come together as a community right now to skip the ‘big box’ retailers and online outlets during this shopping season and instead focus on the local businesses that are all around us and need us to come back.”

The eGift cards will only be accepted at participating independent local merchants. The Shop 716 card is electronic and can be texted, emailed or printed after purchase for use. There is no cost to a merchant or business to opt into the program. Consumers can purchase the cards online at www.amherst.org/shop716. For a limited time, shoppers can buy a gift card for $25 and receive a free card in the same amount. The free cards must be redeemed by Dec. 30.

Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Small businesses are the backbone of our community, fueling entrepreneurship, local jobs and the Western New York economy. This program, supported by federal funding made available through the CARES Act, provides an additional reminder and incentive to shop small and buy local. We will get through this pandemic by looking out for one another; this is just another way we can help our neighbors.”

Baynes said, “The goal of this program is to kick off this holiday shopping season by encouraging people to return to stores safely and get back in the habit of shopping at our local merchants. They need you to come back. Remember to #shop716 – shop local – this holiday season!”

The buy local campaign is already underway and will have over 22 million impressions with print, digital/social media, billboard, bus/bus shelter, television/streaming and radio outlets. In a poll of Facebook users who have viewed the ads, Visit Buffalo Niagara found 84% of respondents have supported a local restaurant in the past 30 days, while 65% have shopped local in that time. Only 10% have visited a local cultural attraction in the past month.

Kaler said, “Buying local invigorates our small business community and invests in our economy, and this campaign is intended to stimulate economic activity across Erie County. Working with the NFTA and our other partners increases our message and brings more people back to our restaurants, retail and cultural attractions. Shop local and come back to our come back!”

Holiday shoppers are also encouraged to take part in the #shop716challenge as they purchase and use their gift cards. When making a purchase at a local merchant, shoppers can take a selfie with their purchase and post it on social media with the hashtag #shop716challenge, then tag a friend and encourage them to do the same.

A directory of local merchants who have opted in to the program can be found at www.amherst.org/shop716. Merchants can learn more and opt in at the same website.

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