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Missoula’s Downtown Gift Card program logs banner year in sales, redemptions

More than a half-million dollars in Downtown Gift Cards were sold this year, marking another banner year for a program intended to support local businesses and the city’s “shop local” mantra.

The Missoula Downtown Association this week said sales of Downtown Gift Cards in 2021 reached $570,000, representing an increase of 32% over the prior year – which was also a record year for the program.

Those behind the program see the sales as a sign of support for locally owned businesses.

“The Downtown Gift Card program is one of the most valuable programs offered to members of the MDA,” said Ashley Larkin, the organization’s president. “After years of growth, the program isn’t just a great gift to receive, but it also promotes participating businesses by bringing them new customers.”

In 2019, the program logged around $365,000 in sales. But in 2020, as the pandemic hit, sales jumped to $430,000 with 10,938 gift cards sold. This year’s sales marked the third consecutive year of continued growth.

Of the $570,000 in gift-card sales made last year, half was completed in December.

Redemption of gift cards also has grown year-over-year, according to the MDA. In 2019, around $280,000 were redeemed while in 2021, that had grown to more than $407,000. That’s a boon for local business owners, who rely in part on the traffic and sales the program generates.

That includes the restaurant 1889 located in the new Mercantile building.

“As a member of the Missoula Downtown Association, we have benefited from their marketing campaigns, which have helped us reach our current customers, while also introducing our product to new clientele that have not yet experienced a meal with us,” said restaurant owner Melissa Mooney. “These last two years have been challenging, but the continued support from the Missoula community and MDA allows us to look forward to a great year in 2022.”

According to the MDA, more than $2.3 million in Downtown Gift Cards have been redeemed since 2010. More than 200 local businesses participate in the program.