It’s not a gift card, it’s a lift certificate.
As part of its $625,000 coronavirus relief package, Martha’s Vineyard Bank is selling “lift certificates” for local businesses at www.mvbank.com/lift. Similar to gift certificates, these certificates give local businesses money now while providing customers a discount on their services.
“In this coronavirus experience, we noticed that there were members of the community who were altruistically going out and buying gift cards at local businesses to provide cash flow to those businesses at the onset of the virus,” said James M. Anthony, president and CEO of Martha’s Vineyard Bank. “We saw the opportunity to provide a platform for those certificates.”
In addition to providing this platform, the bank is providing monetary support. Retailers offer their lift certificate to the customer at a discount. The bank will match the discount, up to 10 percent. If a business provides a 15 percent discount on a $100 lift certificate, the bank will provide a 10 percent match. This means a consumer will pay $75 for a $100 lift certificate, and the business will receive $85 in funding for it.
“We are a community bank, and the lift certificates program lets our community decide how to allocate relief funds,” Mr. Anthony said “We hope that the bank’s subsidy will inspire a greater number of people to participate. The bank won’t make a single penny from lift certificates. In fact, we plan to lose at least $125,000 on this program, as a boost to our local small businesses. Please buy a lift certificate for your favorite local small business to help them through this terrible experience.”
As of April 23, more than 40 businesses, including the 51art Gallery, Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery and Caleen’s Day Spa, have signed up for the lift certificate program. Businesses can register online at www.mvbank.com/lift. The program is open to locally owned and operated businesses in Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard.
Mr. Anthony described the response to the program as “fantastic.”
“We will end the week with over $33,000 in lift certificates sold,” he said. “If we spend the $125,000 we have set aside, that would be $1.25 million that went to small businesses from the bank and the community.”
Lift certificates function differently from a gift card in that businesses receive the funding immediately.
“When you buy a gift card, that money is stuck on the card and resides in the bank somewhere, where is remains on the card until it is used,” Mr. Anthony said. “If you buy a gift card and hold onto it for three months, the money on the card stays on the card and remains in the card issuer’s account. With a lift certificate, that money is immediately available.”
Elizabeth S. Colt, owner of the Quicks Hole Tavern & Quicks Hole Taqueria and member of the Martha’s Vineyard Bank’s Board of Trustees, is participating in the lift certificate program.
“It is a really generous way of supporting local businesses,” Ms. Colt said. “Unexpectedly generous is how I would describe it. As a small business owner, whether I was on the board of not, I would say it is a great way to quickly raise cash and connect with customers.”
She described the lift certificate program as a win-win situation. Customers receive a discount at various local businesses, and these businesses receive money up front.
She said the program provides businesses with a marketing opportunity, enabling them to promote themselves through the brand power of Martha’s Vineyard Bank.
“It is notable that the bank has a presence on both the Vineyard and in Falmouth,” Ms. Colt said. “It is very much a Falmouth bank.”