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Oakland Merchants Hope Gift Card Program Boosts Local Businesses

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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OAKLAND (KCBS)— Some Oakland business owners financially affected by recent Occupy protests are taking part in a pilot project designed to get shoppers back in their stores.

Maria Gastelumendi, owner of Oakland’s Rising Loafer Café in Frank Ogawa Plaza, said despite the financial hit to some merchants, she sees the movement as positive.

She’s also one of two-dozen mostly downtown businesses taking part in Oakland Grown’s pilot gift-card project which is supported by the Sustainable Business Alliance (SBA).

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

“There was a dynamism in the air that I didn’t see in a long time,” she said adding that the movement brought attention back to a local level,” Gastelumendi said.

SBA Director Mark McLeod stressed the value of a local dollar.

“Every time gifts spent within the same community contrasts to one spent at a national chain where that dollar disappears from the community,” McLeod said.

The gift cards are redeemable only at local participating Oakland businesses.

Gastelumendi seemed excited about this possible shift in focus when it comes to local spending power and the organization behind it.

As for the business alliance, McLeod hopes to expand the project to at least 200 Oakland merchants by next year.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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