Give the gift of Franklin County with new gift card

  • Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Diana Szynal shows off the new gift card offered by the chamber. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/12/2019 6:52:28 PM
Modified: 12/12/2019 6:52:17 PM

GREENFIELD — Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Diana Szynal says that because the agency encourages people to shop locally, it is offering a gift card that can be used at businesses across the county.

“We’re giving people the opportunity to give the gift of Franklin County, because the county is a gift,” she said.

“I actually proposed this idea during my interview for the job,” added Szynal, who was hired just over a year ago for the chamber’s head position. “I saw lots of opportunities with a gift card. It will encourage people to shop locally, move traffic around different towns and allow people to shop at their favorite businesses, as well as new ones they haven’t yet tried.”

Szynal said the card is “extremely versatile.”

“We have an interesting variety of businesses,” she said.

To make the gift cards happen, Szynal worked with Linda Ackerman at Greenfield Savings Bank, who directed her to some of the people she needed to talk with, including Aaron Dewar of Northeast Merchant Systems Inc. in Sturbridge.

“I met with him and Linda, who were intrigued by the idea,” Szynal said. “Northeast Merchant Systems offered us a platform that’s flexible and convenient for participating businesses, which is exactly what we were looking for at the time.

“Greenfield Savings Bank stepped up in a huge way to make this happen,” she said. “It assisted us with the initial development, and helped us figure out how to market the card.”

Szynal said she wanted the card to say “Franklin County” when someone looked at it, but didn’t want it to be too specific. The result was a scene with rolling hills and a hot air balloon.

The card will be sold at the chamber, as well as at all branches of Greenfield Savings Bank, Franklin First Federal Credit Union, Ciesluk’s Market in South Deerfield and the ENJOY. boutique clothing, accessory and gift shop in Shelburne Falls. Szynal said she hopes to find participants in Turners Falls, Northfield, Bernardston and beyond that will also sell the card.

“We want to make this easy and convenient for buyers,” she said.

Szynal said the cost at the time of purchase is $1 more than the value of the card — so if someone purchases a $50 card, they pay $51. The extra $1 helps cover administrative and production costs.

“The whole program is designed to support our mission: keep the cost down, keep the money local, support local businesses,” she said.

“And for the people receiving a gift card, they can treat themselves to something special, like a massage, or use it for something practical,” Szynal added. “It allows the recipient a lot of choice.”

The list of businesses involved includes everything from restaurants, a catering business and a food market to a licensed massage therapist, bed and breakfast, office supply retailer and outdoor recreation business. She said other businesses will be added to the list as they complete the process.

“We’re approaching about two dozen more that are at various stages of signup,” she said. “We’re just scratching the surface at this point. We plan to continue to grow this. There’s no downside — more business for our businesses and more convenience for purchasers.”

Eventually, every corner of the county will be covered, Szynal said, so it will be convenient for everyone living here to shop all around the county.

“It also encourages people to travel to different Franklin County towns and explore,” she said.

The one requirement for participating businesses is that they be Franklin County Chamber of Commerce members.

“It’s a great incentive to become one,” she said. “It’s such a perfect gift for everyone, so it will be a great addition to the businesses involved. And the cards make great gifts for teachers, employees, everyone.”

There are several individuals and businesses that won’t be able to participate in the program due to the nature of their business, but recognized the benefit of encouraging people to shop locally and offered financial support to get things going, Szynal said. They are: John and Phelicia Howland, Ramon Financial Services, Coldwell Banker Upton Massamont Realtors, Gilmore & Farrell Insurance, Franklin First Federal Credit Union, Yankee Candle Village and Northfield Golf Club.

For more information about the gift card or to see a list of participating businesses (updated daily/weekly), visit: franklincc.org. Contact the chamber at 413-773-5463.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.


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