Gift cards the go

Meraki Business Solutions CEO Aileen Day. Pictre: STEWART CHAMBERS 206937_01

By Jessica Anstice

In this unprecedented time of coronavirus, the community needs to be there for local businesses.

In an attempt to adapt to this new and ever-evolving situation, community advocates, Ben MacDonald and Aileen Day, are in the process of rolling out an initiative that will ultimately help local businesses that are currently suffering.

The project will allow Cardinia shire businesses to become online members and customers can use specialised gift cards to shop locally through any business signed up – whether that shop is built for online shopping or not.

Star News Group’s ‘Shop Local’ campaign, which was recently launched, has the same intention – helping to keep local businesses afloat.

“We are encouraging local people to buy locally and provide as many struggling businesses as possible the opportunity to get their messages out that they are still open for business or to let readers know about their changed operating methods,” Star News Group managing director Paul Thomas said.

“Everyone has been impacted by this crisis and we can only try to reduce that impact as much as possible – our own business has had a significant detrimental impact.

“Please shop locally, help an impacted business and keep as many people employed as we can.”

Mr MacDonald is the owner of online platform ‘A Guide to Cardinia’ and Ms Day is the CEO of Meraki Business Solutions in Pakenham.

“The gift cards idea came out of everything else I do with A Guide to Cardinia – it’s all about supporting and bringing together the community, and small business is a vital part of our community, in so many ways,” Mr MacDonald said.

“I was looking for a way to help businesses support each other, support their customers and have customers support them.

“The gift cards do all of that, and more.”

A big believer in small businesses, Mr MacDonald says there needs to be more support for them.

The aim of the initiative is for small local businesses to gain combined marketing power, increase brand awareness and gain another stream of revenue they might not have had previously.

“It brings people together. The current situation with the coronavirus has only highlighted the need,” he added.

“The response so far has been extremely positive.”

Once the project officially launches, the community can become involved through social media, and by heading into the participating businesses where they’ll be able to purchase the gift cards for any amount between $10 and $1000.

“Gift cards are a great way to increase customer loyalty and strengthen community engagement,” he said.

If they are hurting from the effects of the coronavirus, the gift cards will aid in the speed of their recovery.”

Ms Day believes the role for local businesses in the community is to deliver an experience that makes the community want to look no further.

“In this current landscape, that means looking into innovations such as selling their goods or services online and yes, sometimes that’s difficult,” she explained.

“However, it warms my heart to see so many businesses giving innovation a crack and so many locals taking up the opportunity to support them.”

To get involved in the gift card initiative, call Mr MacDonald on 0434 350 540, email him at, or contact him through the A Guide to Cardinia Facebook page.


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