Sometimes a gift card is the best option. It just is. Wouldn’t it be nice to at least make it feel special? A new Chicago-based company is making it easier to order gift cards from small, indie boutiques that might not be set up to sell them online. Giftbar.com launches in the Twin Cities on Wednesday. They’ve already signed on a dozen Twin Cities boutiques including bluebird, Roe Wolfe, Alfresco Casual Living, Teeny Bee Boutique, Wind & Willow Home, Trappings, Brow Chic, Spot Spas, CC & Mays, Kisa, Tess + Tricia, and Merilou. Giftbar’s vice president of merchant services Lauren Chatman says interest from Twin Cities’ retailers has been strong. Giftbar.com is in 17 other markets around the country.
The initial idea of Giftbar was simply to streamline the process of buying a gift card, any gift card—lend some technology to it the process and dress it up to feel more like a thoughtful gift, Chatman says. “Unexpectedly, we’ve shined a light on small business,” she says. Giftbar.com prides itself on a discerning roster of stores for its customers, who spend an average of $140 per card. Read through store descriptions, select a card (or send a general one that can be redeemed at any Giftbar merchant), then personalize the gift card and send via email, mobile or mail. Chatman says 40 percent of gift cards are sent out of state—making it an easy way to give a local, more personal gift without even being nearby.