Park Slope’s 5th Avenue BID has found another way to try to keep holiday shopping local— specialized gift cards.
The gift cards, which are available through Yiftee, can be used at any participating business in the area. Right now, around 40 businesses have signed up, including Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store, Postmark Cafe, Body Tonic, and Gift Man. The BID decided to expand past their normal purview of 5th Avenue, including businesses in the surrounding neighborhood and even in Gowanus.
“I think everyone’s very interested. We’re all looking for ways to increase business locally. I think it’ll go over very well in the area, because people are always asking us, ‘what can we do to support our local businesses, because we know they’re struggling’. This is something they can do,” the BID Executive Director Mark Caserta said.
After implementing the Open Streets: Restaurants program successfully on their Avenue, Caserta knew that they needed to do more for the area’s non-restaurant businesses.
“It’s mainly stores and services, and that’s what we were aiming for. It’s not that we don’t want restaurants, but we’ve done open streets to help restaurants by closing the streets every Saturday, so we were looking for some way to help our stores. We aimed to get the stores on first,” Caserta said.
The cards are completely digital and create no environmental waste, something that was important to the BID. They also come at no cost to the business, and can be used both in-person and online. They can also be used multiple times and various businesses, but can’t be refilled after the initial amount is loaded on.
Annie Cantrell, the owner of Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store on Park Slope’s 5th Avenue, is excited about the program.
“[I think that it’s] really cool that we’re trying to keep it all local and I really wanted to be a part of that,” Cantrell said. “I think going into holiday the timing is really exciting and hopefully it’ll really catch on.”
For Annie’s, and many other local shops, the holiday season is usually incredibly busy. This year, things are in limbo.
“Let’s hope [it’s busy]. We are prepared for that, we are hoping and we’ve just been prepared for any and all scenarios.There’s so much unknown about what things are going to look like,” she said.
The announcement comes on the heels of a city-wide initiative, Open Storefronts, which will also allow local businesses to display merchandise or other items outside if they so choose.
Caserta says that the cards will be available by the end of this week. They can be purchased here.