By Lauren Wanko
With the swipe of new card, customers in Robbinsville won’t just be spending their cash in local businesses. A portion of the sale will go to a local charity of their choice through the Keep It Local Robbinsville program.
“It benefits the owners and it benefits the customers,” said Dolce & Clemente’s owner Frank Dolce.
“This is a good way for our Little League teams and soccer teams to be able to raise money to encourage their parents to come in and shop local and a great way for businesses to give back, usually to the charities their already supporting,” said Mayor Dave Fried.
Here’s how it works. Customers can sign up for the program on the township’s Keep It Local website, on the phone or at participating businesses. Any Robbinsville small business, including businesses in neighboring towns within a five-mile radius, can sign up. Any local 501(c)(3) charity can register too.
Once the customer gets the card, they can activate it online or with most smart phones. When they’re making a purchase at a participating business, the retailer will swipe the card. That keeps track of the money spent on the online database.
Two percent of a customers’ bill is allocated for the charities. When that adds up to 20 bucks, “Then they will actually go on the website and they can dedicate their money to whatever charity they want to,” Fried said.
Or they can let the cash pile grow and donate it at any point after that. The township just mailed out the cards — a first for the program. Businesses now offer a rewards program for customers too.
“It keeps the community going and you like to support the people around you,” Frank Dolce said.
At Dolce & Clemente’s, Joseph Marino says it’s not just the good Italian food that’s made him a returning customer.
“The fact some of the proceeds is going into a charity only furthers my resolve to buy in stores like this,” he said.
“It’s very important to keep people local and to keep people coming into smaller businesses to keep them out of box stores,” said Dolce.
“This is what keeps our taxes level in Robinsville. We’ve been lucky we’ve had five years of flat budgets. The only reason we’ve been able to keep a flat budget is because we brought a lot of business into town. We’ve got Amazon so we have a lot of really big Fortune 100 companies, but what I didn’t want is people to forget about local business,” Fried said.
The mayor calls these businesses the lifeblood of the community. Local officials estimate participation in the program will grow this spring as garden centers reopen for the season.