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Downtown Barrie Gift Card – Press Release

Monday, May 20, 2024

Downtown Barrie upgrades ‘shop local’ Gift Card and has ‘twinned’ the programme with Harrogate, UK 

A shop local ethos is the latest link between UK town Harrogate and its twinned Canadian city as Barrie introduces its own gift card to boost the economy and keep money local

For Immediate Release:
Thursday May 30, 2024

Barrie, ON – One of Canada’s fastest growing cities is upgrading to a modern Gift Card in time for the holiday season. The Downtown Barrie Gift Card is a physical Gift Card that can be used with participating businesses downtown, including shops, restaurants, venues and services. 

The new Gift Card initiative is the latest shop local push from Downtown Barrie Business Improvement Area (BIA) and replaces the previous e-card system. 

Craig Stevens is the Executive Director at Downtown Barrie BIA and said the new Gift Card will be a way for locals to support Main Street businesses:

“It’s really exciting to be launching the brand new, modern Downtown Barrie Gift Card, making it even easier for people to shop local and support their friends and neighbours. The new Downtown Barrie Gift Card can be spent with any participating business, giving the recipient flexibility and choice. It’s swipe and go, making it super easy for the person spending the Card and the business receiving it.”

Craig adds: “Organizations can also use the Gift Card for employee appreciation gifts, making a tangible investment in our Main Street businesses who are trying to get themselves back on track after the uncertainty of the last few years. This is a great time to support local and keep dollars here in Barrie.”

One of the Main Street hospitality businesses to accept the Gift Card is Dunlop Diner. Steve Ricalis is the owner of Dunlop Diner and said:

“Dunlop Diner provides fantastic breakfasts and lunches to our community. We are part of the program because it provides a well-supported and proven process of supporting Main Street business by keeping money in our downtown. The benefits of the program will be the opportunity for our customers to directly support our downtown through gifting in a manner that can support all the participating businesses.”

Main Street retail business Shop Blueberry Moon is also part of the Downtown Barrie Gift Card. Heather Kennedy is the owner of Shop Blueberry Moon and said:

“Shop Blueberry Moon is an eclectic retailer that is carefully curated with goods that give back – sourced from small businesses and often local. Those who shop feel an immediate sense of belonging. We are part of the program because we will be part of a collective network of downtown businesses supporting each other. The benefits of a Gift Card program is the ease of use for our customers – one card, many businesses.”

Twins! Harrogate, UK and Downtown Barrie

They might be 5000 km apart but the twinned places of Harrogate and Barrie are closer than ever thanks to the arrival of a new gift card to encourage shop local.

Barrie, one of Canada’s fastest growing cities, introduced its new Downtown Barrie Gift Card in early 2024, following in the footsteps of its twinned town in Harrogate. 

Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID) introduced the Harrogate Gift Card in 2019 with over £140,000 of cards sold to date and over 100 businesses accepting the cards as payment.

The local gift cards for Barrie and Harrogate are both powered by technology from fintech Miconex, who manage over 200 programmes active globally. Cards can be spent with all types of local businesses, diverting online spend back into high streets and downtown areas.

Harrogate and Barrie were twinned in 2013. Barrie was named after Sir Robert Barrie, a celebrated Royal Naval Officer and Naval Commissioner in Canada, whose final resting place is Ripley Castle, near Harrogate. Both places have similar populations of around 160,000 people.

Downtown Barrie BIA is behind the launch of the new Downtown Barrie Gift Card. Craig Stevens is the Executive Director at Downtown Barrie BIA and said:

“Barrie and Harrogate have a shared heritage celebrated through the twinning of our two places. Another thing we share is a dedication to supporting our local businesses by encouraging people to shop local and support their friends and neighbours. Harrogate has had some great success with their gift card. By introducing our new Downtown Barrie Gift Card we aim to keep dollars locked into Barrie by offering a local alternative for both gifts and corporate rewards.”

Matthew Chapman, Harrogate BID Manager, said: “We think it is a real positive for Barrie to be launching their own gift card, it is a great initiative that keeps spend locked into the local economy as it has to be physically used in shops rather than online or out of the area. The gift card is also a great present for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and many more celebrations.  

“As someone that has been lucky enough to travel to Barrie and champion the twinning of our two places, it is fantastic to see this partnership growing even further. In Harrogate, we have seen £140,000 locked into the local economy through the Harrogate Gift Card and we cannot wait to explore what additional international collaborations we can cultivate through this programme.”

Miconex operates its Downtown Gift Card concept across North America in association with international payments technology solutions provider EML Payments, and its Town & City Gift Card concept in the UK and Ireland.

Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and said: “Even though they are over 5000 km apart, shop local sentiment is as strong in Barrie as it is in Harrogate. In 2023, over 96% of people in Canada and the UK said they are keen to support local because they understand the positive impact it has. Our technology is used by places around the world to convert shop local sentiment into local spend, so we can keep our high streets and downtowns vibrant places to live and work.”

The Downtown Barrie Gift Card is issued by Peoples Trust Company, part of Peoples Group. Card funds are not insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) or any other government deposit insurer or agency. Funds do not expire, are non-reloadable and have no cash access. For Cardholder Agreement or Customer Service: or 1-833-558-1108.

Media Contact: Downtown Barrie BIA // 705-734-1414 //

Miconex: [email protected]

Harrogate BID: [email protected]

About The Downtown Barrie Business Improvement Area (BIA): The BIA  is committed to creating a vibrant and thriving downtown. By hosting events and promoting local businesses, the BIA enhances the downtown experience for residents and visitors alike.