Puslinch ending ‘shop local’ gift card program due to ‘underutilization’

Established in 2020 to help businesses during COVID-19 pandemic, program has 'run its course': township

ABERFOYLE – A gift card program started to help businesses by encouraging local shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic will be being discontinued by Puslinch Township.

The Shop Local Puslinch Gift Certificate Program will end on April 1.

“The decision was made after careful consideration and a review of the program’s underutilization in 2021 and 2022,” the township announced on March 9.

“This underutilization is consistent with … other municipal partners who have concluded or are in the process of concluding the program as well.”

On June 17, 2020, Puslinch became the third municipality in Wellington County, after Centre Wellington and Minto, to enlist Harriston-based Osim Interactive to develop a website to sell gift certificates for local businesses and service clubs.

The shoplocalpuslinch.ca website, implemented in partnership with Wellington‐Waterloo Community Futures, was “an excellent initiative” to help businesses “during very difficult times, but it appears to have run its course,” officials say.

“While [it] was a great initiative to support our local businesses through the COVID‐19 pandemic, unfortunately it did not meet our expectations in terms of long-term participation and usage,” stated Mayor James Seeley.

“We appreciate the support that residents have provided to our local businesses and encourage them to continue to support them by shopping locally.”

At the time it was set up, Puslinch officials noted the website service would cost $1,000 for Osim to set up, $35 per year for the domain name (the first year is covered by the Osim fee) and then about $500 per year for a Shopify subscription.

Residents who have already purchased gift certificates can continue to use them at participating businesses until the expiration date.

Puslinch officials say they will be reaching out to participating businesses to provide guidance on how to handle outstanding gift certificates.