Around F.C.

Over a Month Later, The Little City Gift Cards’ Impact on Locals

Since its launch on November 26th, the Little City Gift Card has gotten the City of Falls Church talking and purchasing from their favorite local businesses. 

The gift card — a digital e-gift card — was introduced right before the holiday season as a new way to “support Litty City small businesses, restaurants and non-profits.” This means both residents and non-residents can use the gift card to purchase items at participating local businesses. 

Renee Rojural, the marketing specialist in the City of Falls Church’s Economic Development office and the project manager of the gift card program, said the idea for it came about after the city received ARPA — American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — funds to “assist in the economic recovery” due to the pandemic as well as to assist “the incredible small business community that the city has.” 

“We did lots of digging and research, and found that programs like [the gift card program] have been really beneficial for lots of different jurisdictions,” Rojural said. 

So far, Rojural said she and the rest of the Economic Development office have seen “a lot of people” purchasing the gift card, both Falls Church residents and neighboring visitors. Rojural said the city had sold 2,443 gift cards since being launched on November 26th. She went on to state the office has received “lots of feedback” from customers who were new to certain businesses due to the gift card, as well as how it has made shopping in the city “even more accessible.” 

For the participating small businesses, the gift card seems to have raised more awareness for shops or restaurants who may not be well-known or not see an influx in customers. David Forbes, the owner of specialty food store Disturbingly Delicious, said he thought it was important for his business to participate in the gift card program as a way to support “a community of local businesses.” 

“I thought it’d be cool to get people to sort of explore and discover things they haven’t necessarily tried,” Forbes said. 

Even though Disturbingly Delicious has been around for about four years in the city, Forbes said he has gotten customers who he initially hadn’t seen before but now visit due to the gift card. Although he said the gift card can be a bit confusing due to the processing fees that Yiftee — the eGift Card service used for the program — when purchasing them, Forbes said he thinks the overall idea of it is “great” and has brought “people and revenue” 

After its launch, $50,000 in additional funding was added to support the program. According to the same December 15th article by The Patch, the extra $50,000 supports bonus gift cards given with purchases of the Little City Gift Card. This means that a $30 gift card purchase will come with a $15 bonus gift card, and so on.

Some local businesses haven’t seen the impact of the gift card, but are hoping that will change when more people become aware of the many things they can purchase with it. Laura Connors Hull, the founding artistic director of Creative Cauldron, said her company joined the program due to believing it would be a wonderful idea to support small businesses. 

So far, Hull said Creative Cauldron hasn’t seen “a lot of activity yet” with the gift card, but she and her team have been encouraging their patrons to purchase them so that people can receive a free ticket for upcoming events, such as their 2023 Passport to the World of Music concert series. 

“I think that if more local businesses were getting involved in this, it would have an even greater impact on the card,” Hull said. “I think every business that joins sheds a little bit more light on [the gift card].” 

Recently, Falls Church was ranked number eight by SmartAsset  as the most generous place in the U.S. The study was compiled from IRS data of the amount of money people donate as a percentage of their net income and the proportion of people who made charitable donations. 

When asked about how the Little City Gift Card program ties into this ranking, Rojural said it “speaks volumes” about the customers and the Little City community on “how much they want to support local businesses and different organizations in our community.” 

Looking into the future of the gift card program, Rojural stated she and the rest of the Economic Development office hope it is a “catalyst for repeat business.” Although an end date hasn’t been determined for the bonus gift card promotion, people will still be able to go and buy The Little City Gift Card and use it at participating businesses even after the promotion ends. 

“We hope that people will continue to come to the city and support our wonderful restaurants, boutiques and the different businesses that we have in the city,” Rojural said. “Our greatest hope is that it’ll continue to encourage economic recovery.”