17 Apr 2020, 14:32

Wanting to Help Salt Lake Businesses

In trying to think how I could spend open source Friday in a way that helps people affected by COVID-19, at first I looked for projects on GitHub directly related to the virus.

After some browsing, though, I decided that there are already a great number of web projects doing data modeling, tracking, mapping, and the like. Since data isn’t my main bag anyway, I decided that wasn’t the best place for me to try to help.

Local business

I know this is a big area of concern right now, so I started to think about how I could contribute. I considered putting out feelers to businesses to see if they could use (free) help getting online sales set up or something, but then I thought I should do some research first. Perhaps local businesses have already made their pain points known. If they have, I should pursue that rather than decide for myself what they do or don’t need.

Gift cards

That’s when I came across this article, whose number one suggestion was to buy gift cards. It makes a lot of sense, since it immediately boosts the business’ cashflow.

After Googling it, I found a couple sites that let people buy gift cards for local businesses, (Giftly and GiftRocket), but it seems they don’t necessarily provide the cash to the business immediately, which is the whole point in this case. So that wouldn’t really help.

What I need is a list of local businesses with URLs to a page on their website where they sell gift cards.

Getting a list

My first pass at this is going to be to explore the Google Maps API and see if I can get the data I need.

Turns out the Google Maps API isn’t free anymore. Also, there is already a good directory of local businesses, https://www.localfirst.org/member-directory. Local First also has a program that helps businesses set up gift cards, although very few seem to be using it. I have to imagine that a lot of local businesses already sell gift cards on their websites, but not all do, and of the ones that do many don’t advertise it prominently.


Okay, so I think my next steps are to look for ways to encourage the people I know to buy gift cards to their favorite local businesses, and if they don’t seem to be advertising their availability much, point out the possibility.