The Superior Gift Card Club has given local small businesses a much-needed shot in the arm.
The brainchild of Superior City Councilors Brent Fennessey and Craig Sutherland, the club has been purchasing gift cards from local businesses and raffling them off on its Facebook page.
As of Thursday, April 30, the club has pumped $53,750 into the economy.
“It’s just been insane,” Fennessey said. “Small businesses are really taking a hit right now and when we started this on March 21 we thought if we sold a couple of $50 or $100 cards that would be a success. The success has blown us away.”
The club started out with a $100 gift card to Gronk’s Grill and Bar and almost instantly sold all 10 spots on the board. It sold so fast the club posted a $100 card from A Dozen Excuses Donuts & More and that also sold instantly.
“We’re up to 10 to 15 cards on most days,” Fennessey said. “Other days it’s a little bit slower, but it’s all based on how much time we have to post the cards.”
That led to Fennessey and Sutherland joining forces with Missy Siers, Sara Schubert-McKone and Stacey Minter.
“They’ve been a great addition to this group,” Fennessey said. “Craig and I got it off the ground, but the last three weeks they have continued to pound these raffles out. They’re doing a great job of getting cards from more unique businesses, including businesses that are currently closed.
“Without their help, it would be hard for us to keep this going by ourselves.”
Once a gift card is secured by the club, it’s posted on the Superior Gift Card Club’s Facebook page and club members can pick a number (1-10) on a first-come first-serve basis. The cost for each spot depends on the amount of the gift card. For example, on a $100 card there would be 10 spots at $10 apiece. The amount is more on larger amounts, but more numbers may be added to lower the cost for each spot.
“It’s 100% money in, 100% money out,” Fennessey said. “We’re not making any money, the businesses are getting the full benefit of this.”
Once all 10 spots are claimed and paid for, cards will be given away on the club’s Facebook page at 9 p.m. on the same day.
“We do a live show on Facebook to make sure it’s fair and everybody knows it’s legit,” Fennessey said. “We use a random number generator that is online. It’s a wheel and we spin it to find out the winning number.”
People participating pay for their spot through a PayPal account and that money goes directly to the business, which will then send the prize to the winner.
“The fun part is watching the wheel,” said Mike Mohr, owner of Gronk’s. “It creates excitement and it creates cash flow, especially for businesses that need it.
“Our business has been good, we’re running about 40%, so we’ve been fortunate. The support from the card club and the community has been very good to us.”
On average, the club sells $1,000 in gift cards a day, but has done more than $2,000 a couple of times.
“It’s unreal watching the boards fill within minutes,” Fennessey said. “It’s great seeing everyone rallying around these small businesses. It’s fun when somebody wins, but it’s amazing to see the Superior community come together and help out.”
The club went out on a limb a bit and offered $1,000 gift cards to Superior Shooters Supply, Super One, East End Hardware and Nummi Jewelers.
“The most common cards are $100, they’re quick and easy and sell right away,” Fennessey said. “But when we put up the $1,000 cards, they filled up just as fast as the $100 cards.”
Another sign of how generous Superior is came when Terri Kalan was the winner of a $500 gift card from Super One and donated it to the Ruth House, a drop-in center for those working to overcome homelessness.
“What an amazing group of people,” said Katie Nummi-Perrault, manager at Nummi Jewelers. “They are helping out the city at a difficult time. We’re really lucky to have such great people in the city of Superior.”
The Superior Gift Card Club currently has 1,500 members and isn’t accepting new members at this time.
“The spots were filling so fast that people were getting frustrated they couldn't get a spot,” Fennessey said. “At some point, if we add a couple of more administrators, we might open it up for new members. But for right now, the people in the group are eating these cards up.”
Fennessey also wants to thank the Superior Elk’s Lodge.
“This wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for our partnership with the Elk’s,” Fennessey said. “They have the raffle license to make this legit, and they’ve been with us from the very beginning. They made this possible.”
How long the club will continue to sell cards depends on its members.
“As long as people keep buying spots we’ll keep selling them,” Fennessey said. “Even when this whole COVID-19 thing passes, if there’s still interest, we’ll keep doing it.
“We’re having a blast doing this, and it’s not that time consuming. We might have to get some more help to keep the momentum going, but we’ll keep doing it as long people keep taking spots.”
This story was updated at 1:05 p.m. on April 30 with the total amount raised as of Thursday morning. It was updated at 8:05 a.m. on April 30 to correct the spelling of Brent Fennessey's name. It was originally posted at 6:23 a.m. on April 30. The Telegram regrets the error.