I Love Local program promotes shopping at Milford businesses

Milford Chamber of Commerce encourages consumers to shop locally using the I Love Local gift card program. 

Milford Chamber of Commerce encourages consumers to shop locally using the I Love Local gift card program. 

Milford Chamber of Commerce/Contributed

MILFORD — The I Love Local program was started in 2021, but Milford Chamber of Commerce officials said they expect it to be popular again this year.

The chamber created I Love Local as a gift card program designed to encourage consumers to shop across the Milford region.

"We launched the program last year, and it's continuing," said Simon McDonald, Milford Chamber of Commerce director of membership and marketing. "We want to remind people that it's here and keeping dollars local is important."

The way the program works is consumers pay the chamber for the gift card and the chamber holds the money until the consumer uses the gift card at one of the participating merchants. At the end of the billing period, the chamber receives a report of where the gift cards were used and then they send out checks to those merchants.

McDonald said the gift cards do not have an expiration date, adding that these work in more than 30 locations in the Milford region.

"We are constantly adding more," he added.

I Love Local is sponsored by Napoli Motors. McDonald said the participating businesses are diverse, from Colonial Toyota to Clothesline Laundromat.

"It's a way to shop local for someone even though you might not necessarily know what they want or you don't have a lot of time to do shopping," he said. "You can come by and buy a number of these cards and give them away to people who live in the Milford region, and it's a way to spread holiday cheer without having to do a ton of shopping."

The gift cards can be purchased at the Milford Chamber of Commerce in the Connecticut Post Mall or online.

"We have sold a couple of hundred cards adding to about $8,000 to $10,000," said McDonald. "I've sold cards as much as $500 and as little as $10.

"These are also a great gift for business owners to give their employees because if you don't know what your employees need, you can give them this card, and it keeps those dollars local," he added. "You won't be able to take this card and use it to buy something off Amazon, which is the point. Spending money with companies like Bin 100 or Bohemian High keeps these dollars circulating within Milford, rather than trading out of the Milford region."

Last year the chamber sold more of the I Love Local gift cards closer to the holidays, and McDonald said they expect the same this year.

"That's just when more people buy gifts," he said. "People usually don't buy other people gifts in June unless it's for a birthday or a special occasion."

Even though many people shop at the big stores, McDonald said it is important to shop local as much as possible.

"It supports our local economy and creates a better place to live, and it is a better cycle, in the long run, to be using your dollars within your community," he said. "Solace Massage may sponsor your son's baseball team, or the Lovet Shop may sponsor your daughter's cheerleading team. We want to promote this to those of us in the Milford region to keep our community growing and staying prosperous."