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Reminiscent of the classic holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Clovis leaders want to round up as many dollars in town and give them to businesses shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“March 17 was one of the worst days of my career,” Clovis Business Development Manager Shawn Miller said Thursday.

“When we told them about this gift card program, they’re almost emotional by the way the community wants to support them.” — Clovis Business Development Manager Shawn Miller

All restaurants and bars were forced to shut down that day. It was Saint Patrick’s Day — usually one of the busiest days of the year.

Miller clearly remembers how the day started: “I just met with owners that morning. At that point, they were operating at 50% capacity.”

Just a few hours later, that meant zero dollars for those unable to offer takeout or delivery. Even the ones that could do a little business, saw their revenues drop by up to 90%.

“All of the merchants are pretty understanding about the shutdown,” Miller said. “That has been surprising to me.”

Caring for Clovis Website

The city began brainstorming how to get the community involved and support the businesses so they wouldn’t just evaporate.

An idea was hatched: the website “Caring for Clovis.”

Just launched, it allows anyone to go on and buy electronic gift cards for the business of their choice.

Merchants will receive the funds immediately, and for many, it’s the first cash flow since mid-March.

For the most part, gift cards will only be redeemable after the businesses reopen. For the ones still able to offer the takeout option, the gift card can be applied immediately

Introduction to E-Commerce for Some Businesses

The electronic gift cards are run through giftbar. The website collects a 3% fee to process requests and send the money to the businesses.

The city is covering the 3% charge for merchants. Clovis has budgeted $2,000 for the program. That covers about $66,000 in electronic gift cards and allows businesses to keep 100% of the funds coming in.

“When we told them about this gift card program, they’re almost emotional by the way the community wants to support them,” Miller said. “Rodeo Coffee shop stands out. … They’re learning how to use gift cards. They’re absolutely thrilled that this is going to be available and they don’t have to pay somebody to set up an e-commerce site for them.”

So far, about a dozen merchants are on the website. Miller says to expect a lot more soon.

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