‘We feel like we’ve our own currency now:’ €110,000 purchased in Carndonagh Gift Cards

One year on from the launch of their local gift card, an Inishowen town is celebrating over €110,000 in sales, hailing it as the best initiative the town has undertaken.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 12:10 pm
Deirdre Bradley and Davin Doherty from Carndonagh Traders' Association.
Deirdre Bradley and Davin Doherty from Carndonagh Traders' Association.

The Carndonagh Traders’ Association launched the Carndonagh Gift Card in March 2021 to replace their previous paper gift voucher.

“We’ve been blown away by the success of the Carndonagh Gift Card,” said Deirdre Bradley, chairperson of the Carndonagh Traders’ Association and local business owner.

“1915 gift cards to the value of €110,000 purchased is impressive but when you think that the value of every euro spent locally is multiplied by 4, that is a lot of businesses safe, and a lot of jobs secured.

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“People are buying them every day and people are using them every day. I get a Carndonagh Gift Card spent at the store most days, and it makes a big difference to our takings. For me, and other business owners, knowing we have €110,000 that has to be spent here in Carndonagh is so positive and is something to look forward to.

“I sold a €100 Carndonagh Gift Card today that was being bought as a birthday gift. The good thing is that the benefit of that €100 will likely be spread out right across Carndonagh as the recipient spends a little here and there. We feel like we’ve our own currency now.

“Lots of local employers use the Carndonagh Gift Card for their staff rewards, taking advantage of the ability to give staff a non-cash €500 reward, tax free. Being able to give employers a local way to reward staff was one of the main reasons we started the gift card, and we’re really happy we did. Out of all the things we’ve done in the town, the Carndonagh Gift Card has to be the best because it has helped so many businesses. Everyone gets a slice of the pie.

“Popular places for people to redeem their gift cards are the local oil company, the independent supermarket as well as health and beauty places; the small businesses are really benefiting. It also goes to show what a great gift it is to give. A person can spend their card putting diesel in the car, fuel in the fire, or food on the table. Or they can treat themselves to a treatment or a new outfit. Even our local vet takes the cards. With the cost of living going up so much, gifts that are flexible to personal circumstances matter more than ever.”

The Carndonagh Gift Card can be spent with over 45 businesses in Carndonagh, including shops, restaurants, pubs, cafés, hotels, services and leisure, and is available to buy from the Visit Carndonagh Tourist Information Centre and online.

The Irish market town in Inishowen in County Donegal was named as Ireland’s most enterprising in the 2020 Bank of Ireland Begin Together Awards and were regional winners in the Bank of Ireland Enterprise Town Awards in 2019.

Deirdre says the Carndonagh Gift Card has also helped the town to reach new audiences:

“All age groups are buying them. Our local schools have embraced it and used the Carndonagh Gift Card as a small reward for pupils. They are small value gift cards, but it’s an introduction to the gift card and to them buying independently and locally. Then we’ll have children who are slightly older in at the Tourist Information Centre buying a gift card for their mum for Mother’s Day or as a present.

“It definitely brings in new customers too, especially from other towns like Buncrana and Malin Head. With a gift card in their pocket, people will make the effort to come here. All our businesses say they’ve had new customers through the card. We’ve had a very successful first year of the Carndonagh Gift Card, which is really down to our community getting behind the initiative and word of mouth. In 2022, we’re looking forward to keeping on growing our gift card and helping even more businesses.”

The Carndonagh Gift Card is part of the award winning Town & City Gift Cards scheme from fintech Miconex, alongside Ballinrobe, Drogheda and High Street Ashbourne. Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and said:

“Carndonagh should be proud of their success with the Carndonagh Gift Card. The Carndonagh Traders’ Association is a voluntary organisation run by people who are already busy with their own businesses but give their time for the benefit of the community. Hearing the positive impact of the Carndonagh Gift Card for traders to bring in new customers and lock money into the town is fantastic, but also for employers who now have a tangible way to support local, and for customers who can use the card to ease financial burdens or treat themselves. Carndonagh is an excellent example of the power of local gift cards to make local economies thrive.”