Daytonians invest thousands into downtown Dayton businesses through gift card program

Credit: Downtown Dayton Partnership

Credit: Downtown Dayton Partnership

In December of 2020, the Downtown Dayton Partnership launched Downtown Dollars, an e-gift card program designed to encourage customers to spend money at small businesses in downtown Dayton. At the time of its launch, the program was one of a few designed to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The COVID pandemic has been extremely difficult for the small businesses that are a vital part of our downtown,” said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “Throughout the pandemic, we have done all kinds of programs to help our first-floor businesses through a variety of programs like gift cards, delivery zones and pop-up patios. Downtown Dollars was geared to doing whatever we can to support our downtown businesses. We had talked about doing a gift card program in the past, but the pandemic really pushed the urgency of doing a program like this.”

Downtown Dollars is an e-gift card program redeemable at 73 businesses located in downtown Dayton. Customers can purchase Downtown Dollars at any time by visiting the Downtown Dayton Partnership’s website. Upon purchasing the Downtown Dollars, customers will receive an e-gift card with the purchased dollars that can be stored on any mobile device, via email or text message. Perhaps the sweetest part about the Downtown Dollars e-gift is that it never expires. In fact, customers can opt to be sent monthly reminders regarding their Downtown Dollars balance.

The aforementioned 73 businesses involved in the Downtown Dollars program include restaurants, bars, salons, retailers, performance venues, service providers, fitness spaces and more. Any business located within the Downtown Dayton Partnership’s Special Improvement District can apply to be a part of the Downtown Dollars program. The boundaries of the Special Improvement District are “roughly defined by the Great Miami River on the north, I-75 and the Great Miami River on the west, U.S. 35 on the south, and the eastern edge of all properties fronting on Patterson Boulevard on the east,” according to the Downtown Dayton Partnership’s website. And, of course, the Oregon District is also included in the Special Improvement District.

Since the program’s launch, more than 4,000 Downtown Dollars e-gift cards have been purchased by customers. In turn, customers redeemed more than $48,000 worth of their Downtown Dollars at participating small businesses. Unsurprisingly, the Downtown Dollars program has given much-needed business to local institutions. Aside from the obvious monetary benefits, though, Gudorf says that the program has also driven business to those establishments that Daytonians may not realize exist in downtown Dayton.

“Our businesses love this program and it is easy for them to use on their end as well,” said Gudorf. “It has helped drive business to their businesses. This program has also encouraged people to try new businesses and explore the various options downtown. I think that people are constantly amazed at the number of businesses that we have downtown.”

Space Three, a boutique fitness studio located at 39 S. Saint Clair St. offering group fitness classes in TRX, BootyBarre and SWERK, is among the grateful businesses.

“The Downtown Dollars program is one of the many creative avenues that the Downtown Dayton Partnership has provided to directly help struggling small businesses located downtown,” said Lindsey Deck, owner of Space Three. “The latest round of Downtown Dollars was only launched last week and we have personally seen an uptick in class pass sales as a direct result. We make it a point to ask new customers how they found out about us and several have shared that they found us through the gift card program. What an amazing way to spread the word! I cannot thank the Downtown Dayton Partnership enough for all the ways in which they have supported not only us but all the other businesses downtown.”

Credit: Space Three Facebook

Credit: Space Three Facebook

As a fitness studio, Space Three had to face a series of challenges and setbacks associated with the coronavirus pandemic. According to Deck, the Downtown Dayton Partnership has been there every step of the way, helping Deck and her crew face these challenges with confidence.

“We’ve been lucky because our members have been very loyal and so supportive, despite all the setbacks from this past year,” said Deck. “We’ve also launched a program where people can rent our space for a private class. This has been really well received and it’s a blast hosting those groups. I am forever indebted to the DDP for all the ways in which they have provided programs and funding to support small businesses. I can honestly say that I don’t know if we would still be open without their support. They have provided direct funding but they have also provided so much free marketing and that is absolutely invaluable for us.”

To encourage more customers to purchase Downtown Dollars, the Downtown Dayton Partnership set aside dedicated funds to put into promotions that would attract more customers to purchase the e-gift cards. In fact, the organization launched a Bonus Buy promotion earlier this week, in which customers who purchased at least $50 in Downtown Dollars got back $25 worth of Downtown Dollars for free. In less than 48 hours, the Bonus Buy promotion was sold out with 174 purchases made by customers.

With this recent success in mind, the Downtown Dayton Partnership is planning future promotions.

“Throughout the year, we will be planning some surprise promotions since events like Mother’s Day and graduations are coming up,” said Gudorf.

As vaccinations begin to roll out and Dayton emerges from the grip of a months-long pandemic, the Downtown Dayton Partnership has pledged to do its very best to continue providing essential support to the businesses it serves.

“We will continue to support our downtown businesses as they emerge from (a) pandemic that has been really difficult,” said Gudorf. “Entrepreneurs have invested their life savings into these businesses and they have been so creative in keeping their doors open. We’re going to keep working with them because they’re such a vital part of downtown Dayton.”

More information about the Downtown Dollars program including a full list of participating downtown Dayton businesses can be found by visiting the Downtown Dayton Partnership’s website or Facebook page.

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