In the elements and the early morning hours this Saturday, in advance of Black Friday, Collingswood residents will make their annual offering to the season as the town hosts its Collingswood Cash bonus promotion.
For an extremely limited time—less than an hour elapsed before it all sold out in 2011—residents can pick up a bonus $20 for every $50 in Collingswood Cash they purchase.
The bonus cash must be spent by March 31, 2013, which will ensure that it is used to stimulate first-quarter sales in the borough; regular Collingswood Cash has no expiration date.
The borough is making $125,000 in Collingswood Cash available through the promotion. The Business Improvement District (BID) tax, an assessment levied on shops and restaurants in the BID zone, will put up the corresponding $50,000 in bonus cash.
That’s a total of $175,000 that will stay in town, supporting the local economy, said Mayor James Maley.
“It’s funded from a tax on businesses, and this directly gives it back to them and lets them compete for it,” he said. “There’s just nothing better. It keeps the money local.”
Plugging the holes
The borough says it has sold more than a half million dollars in Collingswood Cash in recent years, and has adjusted the details of Saturday’s giveaway according to lessons learns from prior promotions.
For instance, Maley said, after its inaugural run, the borough had to make arrangements to prevent shoppers from spending their bonus cash on gift cards sold at WaWa and Rite Aid for national chain restaurants and businesses.
This year, buyers are limited to a maximum $400 purchase this year (netting a maximum of $160 in bonus cash). Likewise, the sale this year is being held on Saturday to accommodate more customers; in the past, it had been held on a Monday.
“We’ve plugged a lot of holes to make sure those dollars stay with Collingswood businesses,” Maley said.
“The moving to Saturday is definitely trying to make it more accessible to more people," he said. "We’ve lowered the max so it goes out to more people.”
The sale will be hosted at three locations in town: Borough Hall, Sun National Bank, and 1st Colonial National Bank. Officially, it kicks off at 9 a.m., and the borough announcement asks that lines form no earlier than 6 a.m. Both banks will only transact cash purchases.
'A good shot in the arm'
“It’s a good shot in the arm for the town,” said Mike DiBartolo of DiBartolo’s Bakery, who also works with Collingswood Partners, the BID administration group.
“No other town gives away $50,000 and it stays in the town,” he said.
DiBartolo, who estimates that his business probably sees about $1,000 to $2,000 in Collingswood Cash throughout the course of the year, says that the tweaks to the promotion have done a great deal to distribute spending more evenly throughout the BID.
“Before, you were able to pick up $2,000 [in Collingswood Cash] and people were grabbing an extra $500,” DiBartolo said. “The first time, it went in 15 minutes. Last year we dropped it, and it went in 45 minutes.”
The hope of BID organizers is that by capping the amount that any single purchaser can buy, and by holding the sale on the weekend, more and different kinds of businesses will likely benefit from the promotion, from restaurants to retailers to service providers.
“We definitely get our fair share of it,” agreed Bauhaus owner Louis Alberta, who estimated that his salon sees about $2,000 annually in Collingswood Cash.
“I have a couple of clients who use it all the time,” said stylist Julie Jahn.
“People use it to buy [hair and beauty] products,” said stylist Jennifer Mattucci.
Other business owners are taking advantage of the opportunity to entice shoppers by piling additional sales and discounts on top of the promotion.
Reed Orem of Dig This is offering 5 percent off all purchases in his store from Black Friday through New Year’s Eve. That's on top of the 10 percent break he normally offers Blue and Gold cardholders.
Theoretically, a maxed-out Collingswood Cash shopper could leverage those promotions to turn $400 into $644 worth of merchandise at his store—a nearly 30 percent discount.
“I think [Collingswood Cash] is a great idea,” Orem said. “We’ve definitely taken advantage of it as consumers. I always think it’s a great gift to give to people from outside of town
"Hopefully that’s right in our wheelhouse” as a business, he said.
Orem said he would be prepared for the day, opening early with doughnuts and coffee. DiBartolo said he’d also encouraged restaurants in town to run early-morning specials.
Grooveground Coffee Bar is giving away a free small coffee to Collingswood Cash shoppers with the purchase of a breakfast sandwich until 10 a.m. It’s also the final day of the season for the Collingswood Farmers Market.
“This promotion since we’ve started it has been by far the best promotion we’ve ever done,” Maley said.
“For some reason, free money is very attractive.”
The following information is provided by the Borough of Collingswood.
Holiday Cash promotion restrictions:
- The $20 Bonus Certificate has no cash value and expires on March 31, 2013
- There is a $400 limit per person on the purchase.
- Purchasers must 18 years or older to receive Bonus Cash.
- Purchase can be made by cash or credit card (a convenience fee of $4 on every $100 purchase will be added to the sale). Personal checks are not accepted. NOTE: Banks only accept cash for purchases.
- $20 Bonus only comes with the sale of a $50 Certificate. The $50 certificate cannot be broken down into small denominations either at the time of purchase or after the purchase.
- Collingswood Cash cannot be used to purchase gift cards for out-of-town businesses at WaWa or Rite Aid.
- Change back from Collingswood Cash is at the discretion of the individual businesses. Businesses may issue a store credit for larger amounts.
Certificates are available in increments of $5, $10, $25 and $50. Cash is available for purchase at:
- Collingswood Borough Hall, 678 Haddon Ave. 856-854-0720
- 1st Colonial National Bank, 1040 Haddon Ave. 856-858-1100
- Sun National Bank, 627 Haddon Ave. 856-858-1776
For more information, call Collingswood Partners, Inc. at 856-858-9275.