Digital-gifting pioneer leads U.S. ‘Main Street’ mission

Main event: Main Street USA -- including Main Street in Patchogue -- needs all the help it can get to survive the great 2020 pandemic.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Regional innovation veterans have conjured a pandemic-approved small-business support system stretching from Main Street, Long Island, to Main Streets everywhere.

Behold, OperationMainStreet.com, a free gift card directory from Huntington-based group-gifting pioneer eGifter that covers every U.S. state, county, city and ZIP code – a stacked deck for the little guy, with customers near and far encouraged to purchase gift cards that help mom and pop, and their employees, endure COVID-19’s quasi-quarantines.

The directory launched earlier this month with more than 50,000 U.S. small businesses aboard. Business owners are invited to participate for free – shops that sell online gift cards or businesses wishing to list a website can simply fill out an application form – while OperationMainStreet also includes several functions encouraging regional promotions.

A local chamber of commerce looking to promote multiple ZIP codes, for instance, can use the Claim Your Town feature to customize an OperationMainStreet page for a particular geographic area. The Queens Chamber of Commerce did just that, creating a ZIP-specific directory page spanning several neighborhoods in New York City’s easternmost borough.

Tyler Roye: Pain reliever.

“This is a project that truly helps small businesses during these unprecedented times,” noted Chamber President and CEO Thomas Grech. “The Queens Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to cooperate with our neighbors on Long Island and support OperationMainStreet.”

LongIsland.com, self-billed as the Island’s “most popular website destination,” also created a customized page, this one covering every ZIP code between westernmost Nassau County and the East End.

The Island-info aggregator – which also created a free, LI-centric job-listings board in response to the pandemic – immediately saw the value in OperationMainStreet, according to LongIsland.com CEO Andrew Hazen.

“LongIsland.com was happy to promote the site as we look for ways to help the community,” Hazen said Tuesday. “We even added it to our primary navigation.”

Besides its obvious B2B benefits, the directory is also a digital breath of fresh air for locked-down consumers, who can enjoy socially distanced-yet-pinpoint access to a bevy of businesses – helping them save their favorite restaurant across town or cheer up a relative across the country.

While the application of such technologies as a national recession-staving socioeconomic weapon is unique, e-commerce is old hand to the driving force behind OperationMainStreet: eGifter, which has surfed digital gifting’s leading edge over the last half-decade.

Tweaking its cutting-edge gift-card tech and services for the OperationMainStreet effort was an easy call, according to eGifter CEO Tyler Roye, who – as a small business owner himself – quickly saw the damaging economic effects of the global pandemic and its resulting lockdowns.

“The (eGifter) team feels the pain of small business everywhere,” Roye noted. “We welcome the opportunity to share our resources to drive this initiative.”

And the sky is the virtual limit, the innovator added, with no charge to join (or use) the directory, no limit to the number (or location) of listed retailers and no end in sight for the great 2020 pandemic.

“We can quickly integrate with processors to instantly add thousands of merchants to the platform,” Roye said. “We hope many providers will reach out to join this effort.”