Josué Vega, Marketing & Communications Intern
If you’ve been around Chattanooga a lot, you might have become desensitized to what an amazing tourist spot it is. After all, we have one of the nation’s best riverwalks, a gorgeous art scene (both indoor and outdoor), fresh restaurants, and quality entertainment. Wrap it all up in the cozy, diverse streets of Chattanooga, and you have a city that yearns to be explored.
Enter the Chattanooga Express Card.
On June 1st of this year, River City Company released this handy gift card as a way to draw business back into downtown Chattanooga. “Downtown was impacted the most by the stay-at–home orders during the COVID shutdown,” Dawn Hjelseth, Vice President of Marketing and Communication, River City Company, says. “Even today, we see fewer people in downtown than pre-pandemic. We want to remind people that a lot of your favorite places are still open.”
85 businesses have signed up to be Chattanooga Express Card friendly facilities (as of Tuesday, August 31—the number of businesses joining is still growing!). They include restaurants, retail shops, the Chattanooga Theatre Center, and much more—aka everything you’ll ever need to plan the perfect day trip.
Of course, one of the best perks of the card is the “buy one, get one” offer that is given when you put $50 or more on the card. For a card between $50-$74, buyers are given an extra $10 on their card. For $75 and up, they are gifted $25. Every so often, River City Company will run a special, and participants who place $100 and up on their card receive an extra $50 free.
The card is electronic, delivered to clients within an hour, and is best used by presenting it on your phone at payment time. “It looks just like a MasterCard does,” Hjelseth says. “It has a 16 digit number and an expiration date on it. So you just show the card number on your phone to the cashier or the server, and they take down the number and process your payment.” For those who are more old school, never fear—Hjelseth assures that the card can be printed out and used that way as well.
Both clients and businesses can rest assured that they are not buying into any trap, as 100% of the money on the card goes to the local businesses. River City Company does not charge a dime for providing this service.
Many local businesses are already jumping on this opportunity, not only signing their businesses up as Chattanooga express card friendly, but buying large amounts of cards to give their employees as holiday gifts or appreciation bonuses. To sign up, businesses simply fill out the online form. To order in large amounts, businesses just call up River City Company, who are happy to make the large orders easy to purchase.
So far, the card is working splendidly, with $80,000 worth of cards sold. People are gathering back in downtown, hailing from distances like Soddy Daisy and Northern Georgia. Even tourists from other states have purchased the card. The Chattanooga Express Card has begun pumping new life into the heart of our city. Why not see what it’s all about?