Shot in the arm for merchants

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, October 27, 2020

“Shop local” is a familiar refrain in this space, but the message has never been more important.

Isle of Wight merchants head into the holiday season, traditionally their most profitable time of the year, battered by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 economic shutdown. November and December could determine whether some businesses make it to 2021.

Credit local economic development and elected officials for doing their part to help businesses weather the storm.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Smithfield and Isle of Wight County Tourism, Isle of Wight County Economic Development and the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce have created the #IsleShopSmall Gift Certificate Program, a joint initiative established to assist local businesses in remaining viable during and after the current COVID-19 pandemic. The program is being administered by the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce.

The $100,000 program is funded by federal CARES Act money dedicated to economic stimulus. The funding support was authorized by the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors, the Town of Smithfield and the Town of Windsor in response to a request from Isle of Wight County Tourism and Economic Development and the Chamber to reallocate a portion of the CARES Act budget to establish the program.

#IsleShopSmall is an online shop at where gift certificates to local businesses will be sold from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Gift Certificates will also be available to purchase in-person at the Smithfield Visitor Center that day from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m.

The program will match each gift certificate purchase, dollar for dollar, for as long as the matching fund lasts. So, for example, for a purchase of $20, the customer receives a $40 gift certificate to be redeemed beginning on Black Friday, Nov. 27. The good news is that the business receives that $40 immediately upon purchase of the gift certificate. The cash flow could be vital as merchants’ coffers remain strained from arguably the most difficult economic year since the Great Depression.

We commend the forward thinking by those responsible for #IsleShopSmall and encourage local residents to maximize the program’s effectiveness by purchasing the certificates on Nov. 10.