Gift card program will benefit struggling Short North shops this holiday season

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — When many people are not sure what to buy a friend or a loved one during the holidays, experts say many people opt to buy a gift card.

Starting Monday, the Short North Arts District is launching its Gift Card Give Back campaign for the holiday season to help support local businesses in the district.

For every gift card a customer purchases through the program, the Short North Arts District will give a gift card to another business in the Short North in return.

“The whole point of this program is to spread the love,” said Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance.

The program first launched in the spring to help local businesses survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We did it for the first time in May and were blown away by the response, and clearly the demand is there in the community to help and support small businesses,” Pandora said.

Now, 80 locally-owned shops, restaurants, and art galleries are participating in the Gift Card Give Back campaign for the holiday season.

“We raise a whole bunch of money in matching dollars, and then that allows us to provide matching gift cards to members of the public who make the purchase of a gift card to a local small business in the Short North Arts District,” Pandora said.

The program makes dollars stretch even further for customers and businesses alike.

“I keep reminding myself we’re not breaking any sales goals. We just want to stay afloat, employ our employees if we can,” said Maren Roth, owner of Rowe.

Rowe is a boutique clothing shop that has been in the Short North for almost 14 years. Roth said she has a goal this holiday season.

“Still be here at 15 years, and we need people to shop local to be able to do that,” she said.

The holiday season is usually the busiest time of the year for Rowe, so Roth said the Gift Card Give Back program could not come at a better time.

“This is when we do a big business, and to know that it’s going to be down somewhat and we’ve been down the entire year, having a little bit of that extra help going into January, February, March, when it’s going to be really quiet, it’s helping us a plan a little bit better,” Roth said.

The campaign kicks off on Monday, Dec. 7. To take part in the program, visit

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