Main Street Dollars: Trumbull small businesses program kept holiday shoppers local

TRUMBULL — Susan Palazzo is well-aware that she’s competing with convenience.

Palazzo, co-owner of City Line Florist, said she knows it’s much easier for her customers to order flowers and other gifts online, as opposed to seeking out and patronizing a local brick-and-mortar business.

“Unfortunately, (online shopping) is not what keeps the small businesses, mom and pop shops, and the local neighborhood florists going,” she said.

That’s why she was grateful when, in November, the Town of Trumbull launched the Main Street Dollars program, which rewarded residents for shopping at City Line and two other small businesses, Pure Poetry and Plasko’s Farm.

The program provided up to 500 certificates to Trumbull residents to spend at the trio of businesses. The certificates are worth $10 and a customer must spend a minimum of $20 at one of the participating businesses to use the certificate.

Certificates could be picked up at the Economic and Community Development Office at Trumbull Town Hall, or at the Trumbull Senior Center on Priscilla Place.

Main Street Dollars runs until Jan. 31, and, as of Jan. 6, there were still 80 certificates waiting to be claimed, said Rina Bakalar, Trumbull's director of economic and community development.

Though Palazzo didn’t say how many certificates had been used at her business, she said she firmly believes the program gave her store and the other participating businesses a boost.

“We saw many returning customers, which is always great, but (the program) also brought in many new faces — people who have lived in our town their whole lives yet never made it into our shop but had a wonderful experience and had returned numerous times even since the holiday,” Palazzo said.

Main Street Dollars, which was paid for with grant funding, is part of the Trumbull Celebrates Local initiative that was designed to help local businesses recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bakalar said the town will be “evaluating the program formally” this month to see if can be continued in some form.

“It appears that residents have been excited about the effort and the businesses seem to be benefiting with increased customers and local purchases at their businesses,” she said. “We hope to continue the effort in the future if the feedback continues to be this strong.”

Portia DiScala Antonio, owner of Pure Poetry, said she’s for the program continuing. She estimated that roughly 70 certificates were used in her store, and that the program likely introduced some people to her business.

“I know it got some people in here where it was their first time exposed to the shop,” Antonio said. “I think I benefited from it.”