Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Oct. 27, 2021

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Grow the (360) gift cards boost Clark County firms

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
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Skin Works Etc. is one of over 70 local businesses that participate in a local gift card program, Grow the (360).
Skin Works Etc. is one of over 70 local businesses that participate in a local gift card program, Grow the (360). (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Grow the (360), a gift card program that circulates money only to Clark County businesses, aims to get those businesses through the pandemic and support the local economy.

Grow the (360), started by the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, gathers local restaurants, jewelers, auto repair shops, entertainment venues and other businesses to share one gift card. The money can only be spent in the local economy to help local businesses — a better option than buying gift cards from Amazon or other corporations.

More than 70 local businesses participate in the program, including LiquidNation, Skin Works Etc., Trusty Brewing Co., Beaches, Octomaids and NW Escape Experience.

View the whole list at vancouverusa.com/support-local/grow-the-360/.

Kimberly Miner, owner of Skin Works Etc. at 13912 N.E. 20th Ave., said having the program has increased her business.

“We’ve gotten quite a few people coming in participating in service,” she said. “I like that it is local and that it’s supporting small business. Rather than buying a Groupon, Grow the (360) gives us more profit.”

Janet Kenefsky, vice president of membership and operations at the chamber, said the program started in late 2019 before the pandemic was a factor, but once it struck, the chamber fast-tracked it to begin April 2020.

The program quickly gained about 50 businesses, which were able to effortlessly gain money from the program; some of their own gift cards were under question during the pandemic because some buyers were worried that individual gift cards might be unusable if the restaurant or business went out of business.

Kenefsky said that the program has evolved: Corporations and large to medium businesses are able to buy gift cards in bulk and give them to their employees in place of Amazon, or similar, gift cards. Real estate professionals have also bought the cards in place of the traditional gift baskets.

“It sends a message to the client to support local,” she said.

And in May, the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, ilani and Visit Vancouver USA gave a collective $50,000 to match gift card buyers for a “buy one get one” promotion. It sold out in three weeks, but the chamber hopes to do another round soon, Kenefsky said.

The program won’t expire, and the gift cards will be good forever, she said.

For the last four months, the chamber has seen redemptions for gift cards every day. The chamber recently put up billboard advertisements on highways leading into Vancouver, including in Jantzen Beach, and it’s gained more traction too.

A total of $129,000 has been put into the program, and $73,000 is still in circulation, Kenefsky said.

“It’s exciting to see the widespread nature of this program,” she said.

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