By: Gabriel Donahue, Deputy News Editor
Photo courtesy of Giverrang
Connecticut startup Giverrang, an independent gift card program dedicated to supporting local businesses, has expanded to 100 communities in Maryland on April 11.
The company creates hyperlocal gift cards which are only able to be spent at independent businesses in specific geographic locations. The expansion into Maryland will encourage card owners to shop small in places like Baltimore, Ellicott City, Bel Air, and more. Gift cards may only be used in the region affiliated with the card.
Co-founder and Head of Programs Mark Walerysiak Jr. explains a “cross-pollination effect” that comes as a result: When shoppers are confined to a specific category of stores in one area, they are forced to explore their options. They may find their new favorite shop, restaurant, or brewery, which turns into a recommendation that draws more attention to the local scene.
Interaction with community vendors is precisely Giverrang’s purpose.
“Ultimately, our goal is to get … somebody’s tail in through the door [of a small business],” Walerysiak said.
Walerysiak works alongside Roy Paterson, Giverrang’s head of product and co-founder. Paterson is in charge of technological development. Although working with Walerysiak from across the globe in the United Kingdom, Paterson shares the same values as his partner.
Walerysiak’s desire to increase support for small businesses began about a decade ago when he worked for a “downtown revitalization project” in Bristol, CT. The experience taught him the economics of local businesses and how beneficial it is for a community to have a thriving web of mom and pops.
The Giverrang website emphasizes the importance of spending locally: “every dollar is an investment in the local economy.”
When dollars are given to small businesses rather than mega-corporations, families are supported, tax revenue is increased, and community services are strengthened.
Multi-national chains have advantageous resources that make it hard for local businesses to compete, but Giverrang hopes to change that. Their manifesto states that Giverrang’s mission is to help “level the playing field against corporate chains and online giants” in order to allow small businesses to thrive.
Business owners process purchases made on the Giverrang cards just as they would any other prepaid gift card. Despite the restrictions shoppers are faced with in deciding where to spend their balance, actually using the card is the same as using credit if spent in an acceptable location.
Giverrang’s plan for the future is to continue to expand to more communities and keep supporting small businesses.
“We’re interested to hear from any Main Street group or chamber municipality who would want a card,” Walerysiak said.