The Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership is hoping a deal with Consumers Energy will be a win-win for both shoppers and for downtown merchants this holiday season.

The word "struggling" can be applied to many and most businesses in 2020, except those profiting from the pandemic. But none are struggling more than local small businesses, which pretty much describes just about every downtown Kalamazoo merchant.

This program, the "Twice as Nice" Downtown Dollars Deal, which launched at 4pm on Friday, December 11th, does this: If you go downtown to shop, you can buy Downtown Dollars, and now, when you do, will receive a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $250. What this means is, if you buy $20, you get an additional $20, thus doubling your spending money across 45 participating downtown businesses. Another way to look at it, is the items you purchase at these participating merchants are essentially half off, since your money is being doubled.

The Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership says this promotion ties in with Consumers Energy's "Our Town" initiative. "Consumers is investing approximately $500,000 to support local shopping in 55 Michigan communities. What Consumers Energy has done is award amounts between $3,000 to $40,000 in matching grant dollars to Chambers of Commerce and downtown organizations across the Lower Peninsula aimed at encouraging local shopping."

According to The Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership, this is some of the fine print about the Downtown Dollars this year: "Purchases are limited to a maximum of $250 (a total of $500 with the dollar-for-dollar match). All bonus dollars must be spent by June 30, 2021. Dollars paid for can be redeemed until 2025. The Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership is encouraging consumers to redeem their downtown dollars as soon as possible, using them for holiday shopping or purchase gift cards to individual businesses to help support businesses now."

The Downtown Dollars work like a gift card at the 45 or so participating downtown restaurants, shops, and businesses. After you buy some, the dollars are sent to the you via email as an attached PDF. Bonus dollars are sent automatically in a separate email, also as a PDF attachment. You can redeem the dollars electronically on your phone via QR code or printed out. You can also buy and send the Dollars to others as a gift. Here's the rub though; just so you're not surprised, check first with the business you are buying at, because businesses may offer cash, change, store credit, or may not honor change for downtown dollars.

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