Boston is rewarding residents for shopping locally.
Launched by the city, a new “B-Local” program distributes cash discounts to participating shoppers who patronize Boston businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement is part of the city’s ongoing effort to support small businesses through the pandemic.
B-Local users can register a credit, debit, or pre-paid debit card via the B-Local smartphone app. Then every time residents use that preregistered payment method at a participating restaurant, store, cafe, gym, salon, and more, they receive Boston Points. Each Boston Point is worth one dollar, and those can be redeemed at local businesses going forward.
The discounts are reimbursed by the City of Boston using CARES Act Funding, so there is no cost to residents or businesses.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they need our help to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Acting Mayor Kim Janey said in a statement. “This dynamic program is a proven and powerful economic tool. By creatively leveraging federal CARES Act funding, the City of Boston can support local business owners, reward local shoppers, and drive a stronger recovery.”
Some 269 businesses have signed up to participate in B-Local. They include 185 minority and immigrant-owned businesses, 143 woman-owned businesses, and 46 Black-owned businesses.
A similar program has already proven effective in Akron, Ohio, where it generated more than $200,000 in sales and supported 170 businesses over six months. And several Boston business owners think it could do the same for them.
B-Local “aids in financial recovery and allows an opportunity for us all to reconnect and have each other’s backs,” said participating restaurant owner Tiffani Faison in a statement. Faison’s Big Heart Hospitality includes Sweet Cheeks Q, Tiger Mama, Fool’s Errand, and Orfano.
The new program “allows Bostonians a fresh perspective on which businesses are uniquely local and how, together, we contribute to the rebirth of the Boston we know, love and miss, so dearly,” Faison said.
Any Boston business can sign up for B-Local at boston.gov/B-Local. Shoppers can download the application on the Apple Store or Google Play.