Haverhill Chamber Turns Relief Effort Towards Local Retailers Harmed by Forced Closures

Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dougan Sherwood. (Courtesy file photograph.)

Following on the success of its Dollar-for-Dollar Gift Card program for restaurants, the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce is helping retailers give customers 25 percent off future purchases.

The “#HaverhillLocal” program is open to Haverhill stores whether or not they are members of the Haverhill Chamber. The group will reimburse participating businesses 25% of total purchase prices, up to $100 per customer. For example, stores may sell a $100 gift card for only $75. Appearing live Friday on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program, state Rep. Andy X. Vargas said the initiative is similar to what is being offered to restaurant owners.

“We’re going to launch that program again today for small businesses that aren’t restaurants so we will include retail as well which is having a tough time as you can imagine not being able to sell anything,” he said.

Haverhill Chamber President Dougan Sherwood added, like the restaurant program, people are being asked to contribute online at GoFundMe.com to help pay for the retail plan. Participating businesses will be listed at haverhillchamber.com.

Speaking remotely before the City Council last night, Sherwood said the gift card program raised more than $50,000 in less than three weeks. He is hoping this new program will do the same for other businesses such as yoga studios and gyms, hair stylists and dry cleaners.

“Taking a cue from that program and the success of it, we are actually launching a new program that we are calling #HaverhillLocal and this is really a response to following the shuttering of all the restaurants in Haverhill, all the other services and retail businesses that can no longer sell their products or offer their services. None of these businesses are able to operate,” he said.

Vargas used the opportunity to also warn people about unreliable news sources.

“We did say make sure that you’re subscribing to your local news at this time, including WHAV, of course, because part of the challenge with this pandemic is that folks are getting their information from sources that aren’t always accurate,” said Vargas.

The state representative helped Greater Haverhill’s only public radio station make its membership pitch.

“Special thanks to all of the folks at WHAV for keeping local news going. For anyone listening, please consider being a supporter of WHAV. They do fantastic work and at this time it is so important to have verified sources particularly at the local level,” he concluded.

WHAV’s John Lee Grant contributed to this story.

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