Downtown Mesa is aiming to boost local shopping by launching a gift card that's exclusive to businesses in the city's center.
The Downtown Mesa Association (DMA) is making the cards available Friday and plans to give away hundreds of dollars worth of them in the coming months as a promotion. DMA executive director David Short said he envisions people will give the cards as perks to employees or gifts to friends and family. The gift card program should keep more money in the local economy and should be useful for all kinds of shopping needs, he said.
"We're excited that it's going to give people with this card a wide range of choice what they spend it on, whether they want an oil change or a pair of jeans or a picture frame or dinner," Short said. "It's pretty much everything under the sun down here."
The card can be used at more than 400 businesses in the square-mile downtown surrounded by Country Club Drive, Mesa Drive, Broadway Road and University Drive. The cards come in values of $10 and $20.
The gift card program is one of several efforts the DMA has unveiled in the past year as the organization has become more aggressive in promoting downtown. The DMA has worked to increase and improve events, revive the tradition of holiday lights along Main Street, and create an entertainment district that makes it easier to hold events.
And the DMA is working with Mesa to host a holiday festival Saturday, following years of no official Christmas-themed event. This year's program is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Macdonald Street between Pepper Place and Main Street. The DMA will give away gift cards during the festival.
The DMA's gift card was the idea of Short, who oversaw the introduction of the same concept in 2007 when he headed a downtown organization in Fort Collins, Colo. Businesses aren't obligated to accept the card, but Short said he doesn't expect any to decline it. Businesses can redeem the card through the DMA during normal business hours, he said. It doesn't cost anything for businesses or card users to use.
"It's going to be cheap and easy for the consumer, and cheap and convenient for the businesses," he said.
Cards are available at the DMA offices, 100 N. Center St. The DMA is looking for other stores that will sell the cards and it expects to eventually offer the cards over its website, www.downtownmesa.com.
Short said the DMA will market the card. He expects it will take time for word of it to spread. He didn't have financial projections for its use.
"We have no idea how well this will work, because we haven't had a program like this before," he said.