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  • Matt Moloney

Keep local dollars local: A guide to a successful shop local program

A shop local program is a set of initiatives and policies aimed at promoting and supporting local businesses within the community. This can include campaigns to encourage residents to shop at local businesses (like Restaurant Week or Small Business Week), financial incentives for businesses to expand or relocate within the community and other resources to help local businesses thrive.


Implementing a shop local program can provide several benefits for local governments, including:

  • Supporting local businesses: By encouraging residents to shop at local businesses, a shop local program can help to support the local economy and promote economic growth. This can help to create jobs, increase tax revenues and strengthen the overall business community

  • Building community: A shop local program can help build a sense of community and pride among local residents. By promoting local businesses and encouraging residents to shop locally, the program can help to foster a sense of connection and engagement within the community

  • Economic development: A shop local program can help to attract new businesses to the area, as it demonstrates the strength and vitality of the local business community. This can help to further promote economic development and growth

  • Improved quality of life: A strong local business community can help to improve the overall quality of life for residents, by providing a diverse range of goods and services, fostering community engagement and creating a sense of place and identity for the community

Building the framework for a shop local program with a trusted GovTech partner

Bludot has partnered with over 100 local governments to empower their Economic Development and Business Retention & Expansion efforts.


Open Rewards allows members of the community to earn rewards when they shop locally. It was designed around a simple philosophy: shopping locally benefits the entire community, not just a single business.





To put it in dollars and cents, this can be interpreted by how much money stays in the community: for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $68 will continue to circulate in that town or city. For national chains, only $43 remains in the community.


Money that remains in a community equates to a number of benefits:

  • More local jobs

  • Positive environmental impact

  • Increased pride in the community

  • Tax dollars can be generated to support local infrastructure

How cities are partnering with Bludot to launch their shop local program

The City of Lancaster, CA has been embracing innovation for years. To support local restaurants and businesses during the pandemic, the Economic Development team began a shop local program. In the last year, they have digitized this program with Bludot.


We sat down with Lancaster’s Assistant Manager for Economic Development Sydney Yeseta for a Q+A on the city’s history of small business development and how they upgraded their shop local efforts with Bludot.


“One of the biggest things that our Mayor has really focused on is innovation. It is also a priority for our Mayor and Council to be as business-friendly as possible. We try to alleviate red tape as much as possible and always try to find a way to say yes. We like to think that we are a little more unique and think outside the box—we try to come up with creative deal structures whenever possible.” Sydney Yeseta, Assistant Manager for Economic Development for the City of Lancaster, CA

Promoting your shop local program

A critical part of any successful initiative—especially a shop local program—is promoting it within the community and drumming up interest.


“It is essential for our Council to be able to promote the program, so we created business card-sized vouchers for $20 to redeem when signing up for Open Rewards. This allows our council members to hand out these $20 reward cards as they meet constituents or while attending City events.” Sydney Yeseta, Assistant Manager for Economic Development for the City of Lancaster, CA

As part of the program, Bludot offers both digital and traditional marketing services to help local governments drive adoption of Open Rewards. These include posters, flyers, business cards and more.


In addition to marketing efforts, the community ends up promoting the program themselves in a more grassroots fashion. When customers learn they can earn 5% cash back at any local business that can be used at other stores in the Open Rewards program, it incentivizes them to visit places they may not have shopped or dined at prior. In turn, when they shop at other businesses in your area, that money is returned back to the community.


“It is a great solution to invest in a technology tool with a familiar program model and digitize it. It's crucial that the investment we're making remains local. So that we’re not just giving out $20 that is spent at Amazon or in a neighboring city, but rather being reinvested back in the community.” Sydney Yeseta, Assistant Manager for Economic Development for the City of Lancaster, CA

See how communities are using Open Rewards

Open Rewards is a new and unique program for local governments. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • No action required from local businesses (no need to get them to sign up or train their employees)

  • Supports all methods of payment when consumers shop local (credit card, debit card and cash)

  • Launch within a few days, not months

  • No administrative overhead for the city (running and maintaining the program is all handled by the app)

  • Over 20X return on investment (ROI) for every dollar invested (that's over $20 back into the community for every $1 spent using Open Rewards)

To learn how Open Rewards can help your community keep its local dollars local, schedule a demonstration here.


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