BSD Programs that Boost Local Shopping
March 4th was Employee Appreciation Day; an unofficial holiday established in the mid-1990s to recognize and appreciate hardworking members of your company. To commemorate the occasion, the Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) seized the opportunity to do something special. The BSD passed out cookies for businesses to share with their employees. Cookies were available at the front counter of the BSD office in City Hall and they were distributed around town by BSD employees. What’s more is that this was a BSD employee led initiative – a truly authentic gesture by employees and for employees.
In addition to cookies, the BSD also distributed employee discount cards, which give card-holders access to special deals and discounts offered by businesses in downtown Birmingham. Currently there are seventy-three stores in the downtown district that participate in the program, each offering a special discount to downtown employees.
The Employee Discount Program is not a new program, but this event gave it a significant boost. The BSD distributed and registered around 200 new cards just on that day alone.
This program shows the good will and solidarity among businesses in the downtown. It promotes individual stores to new faces and helps to keep dollars in the local economy.
In addition to the Employee Discount Program, the BSD manages an electronic gift card program called Birmingham Bucks. In partnership with a company called Yiftee, customers can purchase e-gift cards in almost any amount and send them via email to themselves or to a friend.
Each gift card has a sixteen-digit card number that makes it like processing a Mastercard at a point-of-sale terminal in any participating business. Currently there are seventy-two participating businesses who accept the Birmingham Bucks e-gift card. The BSD heavily utilized this program to encourage local shopping and introduce downtown businesses to new customers. It has also proved to be a useful tool to support businesses during times of strife. In 2020, the BSD issued over $75,000 worth of Birmingham Bucks that could be used to spend in local shops and restaurants. It was a lifeline to many businesses when revenues were severely reduced.
The Birmingham Bucks program continues to be a popular program to the present day. The BSD occasionally offers special deals in which customers can earn free Birmingham Bucks by sending receipts for purchases at local stores. This had been done during Restaurant Week in prior years, where upwards of $40,000 worth of cards were distributed to customers who made purchases at participating restaurants. Recently, Consumers Energy donated $10,000 to support the Birmingham Bucks program, as part of their Our Town initiative. In this program, customers who purchased an electronic gift card would receive a second card of the same value for free. This program was enormously popular and the BSD sold out in a matter of days.
For complete lists of businesses who participate in the Employee Discount and Birmingham Bucks programs, visit the BSD website at allinbirmingham.com. To join either of the programs as a business, or to get discount cards for yourself or employees, please contact the BSD office at 248-530-1200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sean Kammer is the Executive Director of the Birmingham Shopping District.