A New Rewards Program for Shopping Local

 In Client Press Releases

Area residents can sign up for Valley Placemaker in person on April 7, 14 and 21 or online anytime at valleyplacemaker.com

NORTHAMPTON—The Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce has launched a program that rewards people with merit points for shopping at local businesses. Individuals who sign up for Valley Placemaker online or in person during the month of April are eligible to win one of four $50 Northampton gift cards.

One unique aspect of the Valley Placemaker program allows shoppers to redeem their merits for prizes at any of the roughly 25 participating Valley Placemaker businesses—not necessarily at those in which they shopped.

“It doesn’t take long to earn enough merits to redeem them for really cool stuff,” explained Suzanne Beck, executive director of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce.

Beck said the program is aimed at giving people another reason to shop in their own communities and combating the urge to buy online. “We have a lot of residents in this region who are passionate about our local, independent businesses. We are excited to bring them the opportunity to get rewarded for the loyalty they show as local consumers.”

To create a Valley Placemaker rewards account, shoppers can go to www.valleyplacemaker.com  and follow the simple steps that are outlined.

Alternatively, people can sign up in person at Thornes Marketplace on April 7, 14 and 21, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. inside the front entrance. Volunteers will assist in the sign-up process and provide information about the program. Each week in April, new Valley Placemaker participants will be entered to win a $50 Northampton gift card.

Shoppers will earn 20 merits on their first visit to a participating store.

As people earn the merits, they can redeem them for a variety of rewards outlined on the Valley Placemaker website. For example, for 12 merits, shoppers can get a cookie at Sylvester’s or Roberto’s restaurants, or for 1,000 merits, they can get a $100 gift certificate to Eastside Grill.

Beck said that since Valley Placemaker was launched in fall 2017, roughly 3,000 residents have signed up, collectively earning about 100,000 merits. About 35 rewards have been distributed.

“That’s a lot of people buying local, and that’s a really good thing,” Beck said.

Stefanie Krantz of Florence is one local resident who is taking advantage of the Placemaker program.

Krantz signed up for Placemaker when it launched in the fall. “I’m a huge supporter of shopping locally, and I was excited that the incentive program started in Northampton,” she said. “I’ve accumulated a lot of merits and have been able to get discounts in local stores. It’s worked very well for me and has supported my vision of shopping locally.”

Krantz has about 100 merits after also redeeming some for a water bottle at Cornucopia and a $10 gift certificate for Go Berry. “I’m very happy to keep business local,” she said.

Valley Placemaker currently has participating businesses in Northampton and Hadley but is attracting interest from business owners in Amherst and Easthampton as well.

“People have a lot of choices about where to shop,” said Stephanie Carlson, marketing manager at Cornucopia in Northampton, which has been participating in the Valley Placemaker program since it launched. “Loyalty programs are an effective tool, but I love the idea of it being a reward for shopping locally in general, rather than at one specific store.”

Carlson said Valley Placemaker shoppers are excited to earn merits and redeem them for $10 or $20 Cornucopia gift cards, or a two-piece box of chocolates. Likewise, at The Healing Zone Therapeutic Massage in Hadley, owner Nanci Newton is offering several items, including $20 coupons for shoppers who earn 200 merits.

“I love knowing that I can be a part of helping to promote shopping locally,” Newton said. “I’m hoping people who have that ‘shop local’ mindset will seek out Valley Placemaker businesses.”

The list of participating businesses includes: 25 Central, A Child’s Garden, A2Z Science & Learning Store, Baker’s Pin, Belly of the Beast, Broadside Bookshop, Cathy Cross, CLINIC Alternative Medicines, Cornucopia, dmg {Don Muller Gallery}, Eastside Grill, Gazebo, GoBerry, Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce,  Jackson & Connor, LLC, JoiaBeauty, Inspirit Crystals, Northampton Bicycle, Rebekah Brooks, Roberto’s, Silverscape Designs, Sylvester’s Restaurant, The Healing ZONE Therapeutic Massage, The Pilates Studios, and WEBS—America’s Yarn Store.

Northampton is one of the first four regions in the country to offer Placemaker. Originally launched in Portland, Oregon, in 2010, Placemaker’s mission is to strengthen neighborhood business districts and thus support the local economy. Founders Michael and Katrina Scotto di Carlo hope the concept will grow to include miniature Placemaker networks around the world, with merits being transferable among all locations.

Local, independent businesses interested in being part of Valley Placemaker may contact Beck at  suzanne@explorenorthampton.com.

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