You walked into your favorite store, the owner gave you a Nift card for being a great customer, and you’re told that you got a gift. “Gift” is always a word you like to hear, but what exactly is Nift? We’re here to clear that up for you and get you excited about your new Nift gift!

What’s Nift?

Nift is the first invitation-only network that helps neighborhood businesses get local customers through the door. Local businesses are integral to our communities and local economies, and Nift strives to get them the exposure they deserve.

When a business is a part of the Nift network, they give their best customers Nift gift cards to thank them for their patronage. Those customers then activate their gift cards online and are given gifts to other local businesses that are partners with Nift. Through this customer referral system, local businesses work together to introduce locals to businesses they may have never realized were right around the corner.

Wait, I’m still confused.

Let’s give an example. Say a wine shop in Brookline became a partner with Nift. The owner of the wine shop gives their favorite customer a Nift card as a thank you for shopping regularly. That customer then activates the card by following the instructions on the back of the card and goes online to fill in their info and preferences, like what kind of gift they’d be interested in getting. Let’s say this customer chose food and fitness. They’re then given two gift options based on their indicated preferences and zip code – we’ll assume our wine shop customer was shown a $25 gift certificate to an Italian restaurant in Brookline and a one-month membership at a Brookline yoga studio, and now they get to choose between the two.

The customer is excited about these great options and decides on going to the Italian restaurant. The customer gets a mobile gift certificate and has 30 days to redeem the gift at the restaurant. Once the customer redeems the gift in the restaurant, they get to enjoy a great meal and the Italian restaurant gets introduced to a local customer. In general, 88% of Nift customers return to the place where they used their gift. And 70% of Nift customers spend more than the amount of their gift. When local businesses are part of the network, Nift brings in consumers who are likely to become regulars.

But what does the wine shop get out of it? Since they sent one of their top customers to another local business, another local business in the area will send one of their best customers to the wine shop. Everyone wins, and great relationships within the community are formed as a result.

What sort of gifts can I expect?

Nift is unique because it welcomes all kinds of local businesses into its network. We work with everything from massage therapy to restaurants to gyms to hair salons to florists to bookstores, and the list goes on. Each business gets to pick what gift they offer, and these gifts can range from $10 at an awesome juice bar to a complimentary acupuncture session. It all depends on what gifts are being offered closest to you and what you’d be most interested in receiving. The Nift team also reviews all of the gifts before they’re offered so that we ensure you get something you’re excited about.

Why should I shop local?

When you buy local, you’re not just getting a new shirt, a cup of coffee, or a cute accessory for your home – you’re contributing to your community. Small business owners have to compete with the big companies that have the advantage of brand recognition, but the small businesses offer services and goods that are personal, carefully crafted, and unique. Each local business has a story that makes them special and we’ve loved learning about them every day.

A purchase at a small business means a lot more to the owners than it does to the owners of a global chain. You’re providing them with money for their family rather than just pumping more money into a conglomerate, so that’s something to feel good about the next time you indulge in some local retail therapy.