Gift cards have long been a standby for family members, friends and coworkers who are tough to shop for or whose birthdays are suddenly around the corner.
Unfortunately, that $50 Amazon gift card isn’t doing anything to support the local economy. An option exists for local residents now: the Downtown Roanoke gift card.
Introduced shortly before Christmas by Downtown Roanoke Inc., the card is accepted at numerous businesses throughout the downtown area.
“Although they are not reloadable, we feel that they are still an excellent alternative to our antiquated gift certificate program,” Downtown Roanoke’s communications and program manager Matthew Klepeisz wrote in an email. The cards are available in any value between $5 and $500. Klepeisz said cards can also be issued for up to $1,000 pending verification.
He noted that the program has been a huge success so far.
In the four days before Christmas, Downtown Roanoke Inc. sold more gift cards than they did the former gift certificates over the entire holiday season in 2011. One difference is that the gift certificate program gave the leftover balance back to the customer. The gift cards retain the balance, so the money stays with downtown merchants.
Cultural organizations such as the O. Winston Link Museum and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra accept the gift card, as well as many of the shops and boutiques throughout downtown.
A range of dining options is on board as well. Customers can use the gift card anywhere from night spots such as Cornerstone Bar and Grill, to Market Building vendors, to Billy’s or First and Sixth.
“We have seen several come through recently. We much prefer it to the former gift certificate they had,” said Victoria Taylor, co-owner of The Gift Niche. “It’s a really easy transaction. I think it’s just a lot more convenient.”
Daniel Mock, owner of Queso Southwestern Grill in the Roanoke City Market Building, also likes the program.
“I’m a big fan of it and I hope to see more of them. … I think it’s a real easy way to keep business in downtown Roanoke,” he said.
Mock added that the new program is easier on business owners, who previously had to send in the gift certificates wait for a check to be sent to them. “I think a lot of business owners don’t like having that money out in limbo,” he explained.
Hotel Roanoke is the latest business to sign on and accept the gift cards.
“This is a significant addition to the current list of businesses because it will allow the purchaser to use the gift card for a full downtown experience, including entertainment, nightlife, dining, shopping, and, now, lodging,” Klepeisz said.
A full list of participating businesses can be viewed at www.downtownroanoke.org, or just look for the window decal stating “Downtown Gift Certificates Accepted Here” at downtown businesses.
Gift cards can be purchased at the Downtown Roanoke Inc.’s office at 213 Market St. between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by phone at 342-2028.