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Local businessman helps raise well over $20,000 for other Main Street businesses

Concerned that the lack of revenue caused by the coronavirus lockdown could cause local businesses to fold, Canfield Plumbing & Heating owner Greg Canfield heard about a “gift card match” program in another town and decided to try it here in Lowell. The response to the offer was overwhelming and could help preserve some firms that were on the cusp of bankruptcy.

“I didn't realize how well it would be received, we got probably at least double the response that we expected,” Canfield said. “It's been really good I think and hopefully helps some businesses open up again. It's a little shot of cash to get them going as things open up. The restaurants have to restock their refrigerators with fresh meat and produce, so this could help them do that. I had one person tell us that they were actually not sure if they'd be able to open or not, and this made the difference for them, so that made us feel pretty good. Everybody has just been starving!”

The idea for a gift card matching program was originally conceived by a company in Missouri.

“I belong to a group called The Service Roundtable for plumbing and HVAC company business owners,” Canfield said. “We all share ideas, software, what's working and what's not working. A company in St. Louis, MO came up with this to help in their town, and they challenged the rest of us to do it. I thought about it for about 30 seconds and decided it was a great idea.”

The promotion was good for gift cards from locally-owned restaurants, hair or nail salons and massage therapists.

“It's been running about $2,000 a day,” Canfield said. “The hair salons did very well and restaurants are in second place. Station Salon is in first place with total dollars. As of 5 pm yesterday [Wednesday, April 29], our contribution in gift cards was over $20,000. The matching gift cards that other people purchased actually are between $22,000 and $23,000, so the benefit to the community has been about $43,000. It's probably an average of about $5,000 per merchant.”

Company owner Greg Canfield is a 1975 alumni of Lowell High School and has lived in Lowell his entire life. Over the years, he has served the local community on a variety of boards and commissions including the Planning Commission, Historic District Commission, Lowell Light & Power board, Downtown Development Authority, the Property Tax Board of Review, the Construction Board of Appeals, the Parks and Recreation Committee, the Lowell Area Recreational Authority and is currently seated on the Lowell city council. He also owns the Main Street Inn and a few other buildings around town, all of which he has worked to restore to their historic prime.

“We're been really fortunate that we were considered essential, and last year we had our best year ever in 25 years, so our checkbook was in pretty good shape,” Canfield said. “We are still able to work and create revenue, so while there's a limit to what we can contribute, we're in a much better place than many of the other businesses out there, so we felt this was a way we could share our blessings with them.”

Michigan's current stay-at-home order ends on May 15, but it could be extended.

“Main St. could look like a ghost town if this doesn't end soon,” Canfield said. “Hopefully it's on the decline and we're on the downhill side of the slope so we can reopen and get Main St. back working again.”

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