Ayr businesses pave way for town center regeneration with South Ayrshire gift card scheme

Enterprising Ayr businesses are backing a local gift card which they say has the power to tackle the ‘endemic’ rise in online shopping.

Shops, pubs and restaurants are signing up to the South Ayrshire Gift Card, which launched in November, and can be spent with over 110 firms in the area.

Three businesses in bustling Newmarket Street have recently backed the scheme – and by doing so, they hope they can pave the way for town center regeneration.

Vanessa Good, director of The Good Travel Company on Newmarket Street, said the gift card is “a great concept and a way to create our own local currency in South Ayrshire”.

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The gift card can be spent with over 110 businesses in South Ayrshire
The gift card can be spent with over 110 businesses in South Ayrshire

Vanessa said: “Another positive is that it’s a cross-sector card, so retail businesses can join, but so can firms offering experiences such as travel agencies, restaurants, salons and so on.

“As business owners, we need to think outside of the box so we can come up with new ways to innovate in our towns, and make the experience of visiting the high street worth it for the customer.

“The South Ayrshire Gift Card is a way to encourage customers onto the high street, then it’s down to us to keep them there.”

Angela Iver, the founder of The Unity Grill – a social restaurant on Newmarket Street – said: “The message we want to share is that if you support a local business, it’s not just a business. We all live here, we all work here, and we employ 10 staff locally.

“I often hear ‘Ayr isn’t like it used to be’, and the truth is it’s not, but that isn’t a bad thing.

“As businesses, we all have to evolve, change and provide what people want and need to bring them onto the high street.

“Ayrshire has so much to offer and if Ayr isn’t usually a place where people go shopping, having the gift card could encourage them to see what’s in Ayr.”

Newsagent and giftware shop The Wise Penny, who only opened in Newmarket Street in November last year, have also backed the scheme.

Co-owner John Beales added: “It is very hard to change a habit that is becoming endemic but that’s my hope for the South Ayrshire Gift Card.

“That you’ll buy a card, or get given one, and go onto the high street to use it.

“Newmarket Street has a good chance of leading the evolution of the high street through its activities and through projects like the gift card.”

For more info on the South Ayrshire Gift Card, visit https://scotlandgiftslocal.com while businesses can join for free at https://lovelocal.scot

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