AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Since November, the Amherst Chamber of Commerce has been helping people support small businesses in Erie County by offering a “Shop 716 e-gift card”.
The cards can be purchased online and are redeemable at over 700 local businesses- retailers, restaurants, plant shops, attractions, and more.
“When you talk to the small business owners, you’ll hear the immediate impact it made on them,” said A.J. Baynes, president and CEO of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.
The program was launched in the fourth quarter of 2020, when COVID-19 numbers were beginning to rise again in the county.
“When that happened, I think we had a lot of companies that were sitting there absolutely devastated with the fear of the unknown,” Baynes said.
The Chamber partnered with Erie County during the initial launch of the program to offer a buy-one, get one free deal using CARES Act funding.
Today we have a special #ShopSmall716, taking a look at the Shop 716 e-gift card program. You can buy a card online and redeem it at hundreds of small businesses in WNY! @KellyKhatibtv @news4buffalo pic.twitter.com/EpYujaAgt1— Kaley Lynch (@kaleylynchwivb1) April 28, 2021
“In a six-week interval, we were able to inject $1 million into the small business community,” Baynes added.
Rove Boutique and Gifts (5596 Main St., Williamsville) is one of the vendors participating in the program.
Owner Jackie Lennert said that the gift card initiative was a “tremendous boost” to business during the holiday season.
“We still take it all the time, no problem,” Lennert said. “It’s been a great asset to help grow the business and get it back on its feet.”
Rove sells clothing and gift items for all ages. Sixty percent of their products come from businesses with ten employees or fewer.
Lennert says the community has come out strong to support her business during the pandemic.
“I believe that people really wanted to support small businesses,” Lennert said. “I think it was very obvious that the big guy was perfectly fine, but smaller businesses were not.”
“By implementing [the Shop 716 program] here in Erie County, that was pivotal to a lot of small businesses that were just trying to survive,” she added.
The gift cards are powered by MasterCard.
The Amherst Chamber of Commerce doesn’t make any money from the activation of the cards, Baynes said.
“It’s about engaging in the community,” Baynes said. “We want to make sure that these restaurants and these retailers are here for the long haul.”
With Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and graduation season coming up, the cards make great gifts.
“It lends itself for a nice thoughtful gift, it encourages people to shop local,” Baynes said. “As we continue to pull ourselves out of the pandemic, we want to have places to go to.”
If there’s a small business you’d like to see featured in this segment, email us!