As part of broader efforts to highlight the importance of supporting Trenton’s small businesses, the Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) has developed the #LoveLocal campaign. Through this promotion, TDA put a spotlight on the shops and restaurants in its special improvement district in an effort to drive business to local merchants during an especially challenging time.

A special community wide “LoveLocal” electronic gift card was launched in recent months to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to shop and dine in downtown Trenton. The gift cards also make it easy for TDA to sponsor giveaways and offer special promotions that generate fast sales to participating merchants.

The #LoveLocal project began back in 2020 when TDA noticed local businesses struggling to survive through the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Amanda Donald, TDA’s Marketing Director, #LoveLocal is TDA’s way of supporting Trenton’s small businesses at a time when it is most needed. “When we knew we were in a pandemic, we had to come up with something quick; some way for us to support the businesses and to get the community to support the businesses as well,” said Donald. “That’s where the #LoveLocal campaign came from.”

At first, the #LoveLocal campaign asked residents in the area to photograph their moments out in the town with #LoveLocalTrenton in the caption for a chance to win some prizes. During this phase, TDA also launched their Sidewalk Chalk Project on October 4 where they asked locals to use the hashtag under photographs of their art for a chance to win gift cards from local businesses. However, upon collecting gift cards to distribute to winners, TDA noticed a dilemma.

“When I asked the few people who won which business they wanted to get a gift card from, I went out and realized that they didn’t even have gift cards,” said Donald. “So, that’s when I said, ‘we need a gift card program.’ Someone has to have some type of community gift card program.”

That is when the next phase of the #LoveLocal initiative began and TDA established the Downtown Trenton gift card. Currently, there are seven different small businesses taking part in the initiative, including 1911 Smokehouse BBQ, Beauty World, Big Easy of Trenton, City Deli, Classic Books, Delias Empanada Cafe and Royal Cake Creations LLC.

With one #LoveLocal gift card, residents can shop at any of these stores. TDA is asking other businesses within the city’s special improvement district to apply for the gift card to help expand the opportunities for local purchases.

“We need the merchants to sign up for the gift cards,” said Donald. “The program is for them, and it’s not a long process. It takes five minutes.” Businesses within the special improvement district interested in signing up for the #LoveLocal gift card program can click HERE

#LoveLocal gift cards can be purchased completely online. The remote opportunity saves residents a trip to the store in these socially-distant times. “People are home and it’s easy to purchase a gift card while you’re on your computer,” said Donald. “You don’t have to actually go to the store to purchase a gift card.”

For a limited time, you can receive a free $50 #LoveLocal gift card when you purchase a $50 gift card through the buy one, get one (BOGO) sale. Initially, the additional $50 received through the sale expired on March 31. However, TDA has extended the expiration to June 31.

“The marketing team has really gone above and beyond to ensure support for these downtown businesses,” said Patricia Hall, Interim Executive Director of TDA. “#LoveLocal is a campaign that has so much potential, I am excited to see where it goes.”

As TDA embarks on the mission to revitalize small, local businesses, they plan to continue to #LoveLocal for a lifetime. “This is just one component. There will be more things that we’ll do as far as the #LoveLocal campaign,” said Donald. “It’s a campaign that will live on forever.”

To learn more about Trenton Downtown Association’s #LoveLocal campaign, visit https://www.trenton-downtown.com/love-local