Ballymena on a mission to be NI’s premier destination with new gift card
Ballymena businesses urged not to miss out ahead of launch of local gift card for the town – the gift card is a collaborative effort to drive footfall and lock spend into Ballymena Town Centre.
County Antrim town Ballymena will soon have its own gift card. The Ballymena Gift Card will launch in November, and businesses are encouraged to sign up to accept it as payment, free of charge.
Driven by Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID), and supported by the Department for Communities and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the Ballymena Gift Card will work like a Mastercard.
All types and sizes of businesses are eligible to be a part of the new local gift card, including retail, hospitality, leisure, health & beauty, services, and both independent businesses and national brands.
Once launched, the gift card will be available as either a digital or physical gift card. Both will be available to buy online, with the physical version also available to buy in person at the town’s two shopping centres; Fairhill Shopping Centre and the Tower Centre.
Emma McCrea is the Manager at Ballymena BID and said the time is right for the town to introduce its own gift card:
“Ballymena is a popular shopping destination north of Belfast, drawing people from a 40-mile radius. As well as our two shopping centres, we have our own independent department stores, and many unique independent businesses. In fact, over 70% of our businesses in Ballymena are independent, including fourth generation businesses which have been open for 80 plus years. The Ballymena Gift Card wraps up all of that choice into one gift card for the town.
“I think the key to the longevity of our businesses is the choice that you’ll also find within. Like McKillens, a shoe store that also sells fashion, home and has its own café, or McGroggans, a newsagent that is famous for its ice cream. In Ballymena, you can find your treasure. Added to that is the strong sense of community. Business owners do treat their customers like family, listen to them, and cater for their needs, and in turn customers are loyal.
“This is an opportunity for businesses to be a part of a collaborative gift card for our town that will drive footfall and spend for Ballymena. It’s free to join, free to accept. The way I think of it is that if a customer walks through your door with a Ballymena Gift Card, you want to be able to accept that card, and that means signing up today so you don’t miss out.
“I’d love to see all types of businesses in Ballymena registering for our local gift card, from shops and restaurants to salons and barber shops. This is a card that will offer support for most industries, and lock in spend to Ballymena."
McKillens of Ballymena, a 4th generation business which was established in the town in 1926, has signed up to accept the Ballymena Gift Card.
Thomas McKillen, managing director of McKillens, said the gift card can help to town to re-establish its position as Northern Ireland premier retail and leisure destination:
“When you come to Ballymena, it’s not just the same names you see in any other town. We have the independents that you won’t see anywhere else. Our independents offer an experience that is more than the products being sold, it’s the conversation and the connection we have with our customers that has allowed us to keep our family run businesses alive.
“The Ballymena Gift Card is our chance as a town to maintain that traditional high street feel we have here, paired with high tech. We have to look to new ideas so we can evolve and the gift card will be another string in Ballymena’s bow. It’s a marketing tool that will drive revenue to the town and help businesses to attract customers that they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to reach.
“The gift card will be an easy option for presents, even for those that live out of Ballymena but have family here. We know that if someone arrives in store with a £50 gift card, they’re likely to trade up and treat themselves. For a small business, that extra revenue could be the difference between staying open and not. And it costs businesses nothing to accept the card.
“Ballymena was always known as one of the best shopping destinations in Northern Ireland, and it’s time for us to take that crown back. But it’s not just retail, this is a gift card which will support all sectors. I encourage businesses in Ballymena to sign up to accept the card, so we can showcase all we have here in Ballymena.”
The Ballymena Gift Card is part of the award-winning Town & City Gift Card concept from Miconex, which is also live in Belfast and Enniskillen.
Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex, said it couldn’t be easier for businesses to register to accept the new gift card:
“The onboarding process is simple and involves taking a test transaction, so your business is set up to accept the Ballymena Gift Card. 40% of gift cards purchased online are from those who are outside of the area, so as well as locking money into Ballymena, the card will bring new money in too. As we approach the key Christmas trading period, joining the Ballymena Gift Card is a new way to drive sales."
For information on how to onboard your business visit: