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Businesses hope loyalty cards keep customers coming back

Who doesn’t like something for nothing?

Clearly, yogurt fans do.

GoBerry, a frozen yogurt business with shops in Northampton and Amherst, offers cards that give frequent visitors a free small cup for every 10 purchases. In the busy summer months, the shop gives away between 10 and 15 frozen yogurts each day, says owner Alex Feinstein.

Feinstein, who describes himself as “blown away” by that figure, says that for most GoBerry customers getting their card stamped is just another part of the transaction at the register.

“We think of the cards as being twofold: to reward our customers and to keep them coming back,” Feinstein said. “I enjoy the connection of stamping someone’s card.”

Jamie Sweeney of Northampton is one of the hundreds of customers who have GoBerry cards. But his wallet is full of other variations on the concept. He’s got a card at Northampton’s Broadside Bookshop that earns him one stamp for every $10 he spends; once his card has been stamped 10 times he gets a $10 credidt. A card from Turn It Up in Northampton gives him $10 off a purchase once he’s spent $100 at the store.

Local shoppers can find plenty of similar deals. Ross Brothers’ service station in Haydenville, for instance, has offered a loyalty card for more than two years. For every purchase of 8 gallons of gas, a driver gets one stamp on his gas card. After accumulating five stamps, the driver gets a 25 cent per gallon discount on the next purchase of 8 gallons or more.

Robert Ross, the service station’s owner, says the offer is a big hit with his customers.

Guild Art Supply in Northampton offers a VIP card for people who can present receipts showing that they’ve spent $100 in the store. After they hit the $100 mark, the card earns them a 10 percent discount on future purchases, says Guild employee Mikayla Doe. Teachers and students are automatic VIP card holders.

A2Z Science and Learning Store, an educational toy shop in Northampton, gives customers a $15 credit after they make 30 purchases of $10 or more. Purchases are punched on a colorful card the store calls a Learner’s Permit. Faces offers a card card, which means a free card after getting stamps for 10 cards. “More fun than email,” the card reads.

Loyalty cards are especially common at places that sell takeout food and beverages.

Pinocchio’s Pizza in Northampton offers a free slice for every 10 stamps on its card which is aptly decorated with 10 tiny images of pizza slices. Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, which has locations in Easthampton, Hadley and Northampton, has cards for both beverages (buy 12, get one free) and bags of coffee (buy 10 pounds, get one free). The card at Sylvester’s restaurant in Northampton earns takeout customers a free hot beverage after they’ve purchased 10. (Sylvester’s also gives a discount to customers who bring their own mugs: $1.10 for a fill-up instead of $1.50.)

Bruegger’s bagel store in Northampton offers a Baker’s Dozen deal: Buy a dozen bagels, get stamps on the card for each one, and the 13th dozen is free. The promotion makes for happy customers, says employee Jessica Neiswender, and doesn’t represent a big financial outlay. The cards are good at any of the Vermont-based bagel chain’s 300 stores.

At Cup and Top Cafe in Florence, owner Helen Kahn says she redeemed 65 free coffee/tea cards in September. While she doesn’t know exactly how many cards she’s handed out, she estimates that it’s several hundred a month, meaning that the redemption rate is fairly high.

The Cup and Top card entitles customers to get a free coffee or tea after purchasing 10, and Kahn says that “because I’m very generous” — or very foolish, she adds with a laugh — a customer who’s filled up a card by buying 10 small coffees or teas can redeem it for any size and type of hot beverage, no matter the price.

“If they’ve never had a mocha before they might really like them, and then purchase them,” Kahn says of the anything-goes offer. But there are customers who redeem their cards for just another small coffee. Kahn says she’s a little incredulous in those cases, telling them, “Really? You can get something fancy today.”

Is the card worth the trouble and expense?

““Would they be regulars anyway if they didn’t have it? I think there’s a percentage that would. Some that are regulars didn’t even realize we had the coffee card,” says Kahn.

But, she adds, “There’s some percentage that says, ‘I’m going to make my coffee stop Cup and Top because I can fill my card and get a free one.’ “That’s what I’m hoping,” Kahn says.


Loyalty cards offer frequent-buyer perks

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The businesses listed below offer loyalty cards. This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many others, so it pays to ask. Antonio’s Pizza, Amherst, Easthampton A2Z Science and Learning Store, Northampton Broadside Bookshop, Northampton Bruegger’s, Amherst, Northampton Crazy Noodles, Amherst Cup and Top Cafe, Florence Faces, Northampton The Goodwill Store, Northampton, Amherst GoBerry, Amherst, Northampton Guild Art Supply, …

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