Online gift cards offered for downtown Chambersburg businesses

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – An e-gift card clearinghouse has been established so people can patronize downtown Chambersburg businesses, even when their doors are closed due to coronavirus.

Downtown Chambersburg Inc. (DCI) and the Downtown Business Council of Chambersburg (DBC) teamed up to sell the gift cards through Shopify. Through the online portal, patrons can purchase women’s clothing, jewelry, art and gifts. Sam Thrush, president of DCI, is hopeful that more options will soon be available.

Mark Miller, treasurer of the DBC, said the goal of the effort is two-fold.

“First, we hope to drive immediate revenue into our member businesses to help bridge the gap until we can reopen to the public,” said Miller, who owns Gypsie, a vintage and lifestyle shop housed within The Garage Studios on South Main Street in downtown Chambersburg. “Secondly, we have had an outpouring of support from our customers and community asking how they can help sustain our downtown businesses during this challenging time. This is one way that our community can safely support the downtown that they love.”

Thrush said the idea for the e-gift cards came about a few weeks ago when he was on a call with downtown leaders across Pennsylvania who were sharing ideas to aid their local businesses. Somerset leaders mentioned an e-gift card clearinghouse, a concept Thrush liked and for which he sought guidance during a follow-up call to that town.

“I kept my eyes open for ideas from not only around the state, but around the country,” Thrush said.

A forum on the Main Street America website included information about an incentive program offered in Laramie, Wyo., through which people’s names were entered in a random drawing if they bought gift cards online. Thrush and the downtown business council tweaked that idea, and now, the DBC is offering online shoppers who buy a gift card worth $50 or more from a business listed on the Shopify page a $25 bonus gift card for that business, while supplies last. There is a limit of one $25 bonus per shopper, per business, but people can buy gift cards from multiple DBC member businesses and earn multiple bonuses.

Due to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s order that all nonlife-sustaining businesses in the state must close their physical locations for the time being, “Our small businesses across our downtown need help with their expenses over the next couple months,” Thrush said.

He said the online gift cards are meant to be printed and taken into the stores after precautions being taken to prevent the coronavirus are eased. Those who want to use their cards before then may call the business for which they purchased them and ask about making other arrangements.

The DBC believes the e-gift card promotion could funnel as much as $15,000 into the downtown economy.

“Our businesses benefit with much-needed cash flow, and those buying the gift cards benefit with a healthy bonus as a ‘thank you’ for their commitment to our downtown. We see it as a win-win for everyone,” Miller said.

Those who are not members of the DBC will receive an email with a link to a Google survey asking if they want to be part of the gift card clearinghouse. It costs them nothing to participate. There is a link to the survey at and on the Downtown Chambersburg Business & Stakeholders Group on Facebook, which is a private page.

While the lack of foot traffic has hurt sales and sustaining revenue, Miller is inspired by the way businesses have changed their practices to stay afloat.

“The most promising aspect of this challenge has been the willingness of our members to adapt the way we do business to respond to the changing environment,” Miller said. “Many businesses are expanding online offerings and engagement, offering curbside pickup for safety, and some are even doing no-touch deliveries to continue serving their customers. This ability to react and change will hopefully benefit businesses long after things return to normal and shops and restaurants are reopened to foot traffic.”

To buy an e-gift card, go to

For more information about Downtown Chambersburg Inc., go to or call 717-264-7101, ext. 204.

For more information about the Downtown Business Council of Chambersburg, go to or call 717-261-0072.

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