During the summer, La Verne's Chamber of Commerce introduced Chamber Gift Certificates, which can be used at participating businesses in and around the city.
The gift certificates, which started being used in June, encourage people to spend more money in La Verne.
According to President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce LaDonna Tassin, the gift certificates, which come in denominations of $5, $10 and $20, work like checks and participating businesses will only need to deposit the gift certificates to receive their money.
“These gift certificates can only help the city,” Tassin said. “They will promote our local businesses, both big and small.”
The gift certificates can be spent in 82 local restaurants, floral shops, supermarkets, book shops, sports and recreation stores, jewelry stores and even auto shops. Some of these local businesses include Baskin Robbins, Chili's Bar and Grill, Person Ford and the nearby establishments Coffeeberry, Café Allegro and the University of La Verne Bookstore.
Tassin first found out about the program at a conference last year and decided to bring the idea to the board in March. After a few months, the program, run by Ohio-based CertifiChecks, was put into place and La Verne became one of the 340 chambers across the nation to join and the first to join in the Inland Empire.
“This is a great idea,” said Lisa Gustasson, co-manager of Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Bookshop, one of the 82 participating locations.
“Residents of La Verne can spend money in the city to buy the things they want and that money will go back to the community. It's a win-win situation.”
The gift certificates are not only attracting local businesses, but customers as well.
Junior music major Becky Tuttle likes the convenience of the gift certificates.
“It's a good gift to give to your friends,” Tuttle said. “If you don't know what to get someone, this is a good gift because there are so many stores they can choose from.”
Even though the gift certificates appealed to businesses and consumers, it did not come without its problems.
According to Tassin, the gift certificates can only be used at businesses that are members of the chamber.
Furthermore, they can only be purchased at the Chamber Office and the majority of the participating businesses have not received any customers using the gift certificates.
However, Tassin is currently trying to improve the gift certificate program and advertise it to La Verne residents.
“Our goal has no limits,” Tassin said. “We want to keep businesses alive in La Verne by attracting more customers and hopefully with the holiday season coming up, the gift certificates will become more popular.”
Gustasson also believes that the gift certificates will become successful with businesses and customers in La Verne.
“The program just started a few months ago,” Gustasson said.
“But I have a feeling that it will grow stronger just like it has in the other cities.”
Nila Priyambodo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.