New initiative exceeding expectations of some in Allentown

Date: Jan 27, 2015

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

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Ditching the cash appears to be paying off for some businesses in downtown Allentown. "We've sold $95,000 worth of cards in four months," said Mitch Hanna, manager, Allentown Main Street, referring to the AMP card.

Announced in September, the card is a downtown Allentown gift card that can be used at 40 different stores and restaurants. It has exceeded expectations.

Allentown unveils new downtown gift card

"More convenient for them, more convenient for us," said Wafy Khoury, Bon Appetite Cafe, adding that as many as 15 AMP cards are used daily at the Ninth and Hamilton streets location.

It's a mixed bag, however, for many merchants in this section of Allentown. Businesses must pay a yearly fee of $75 to $150. More than a few said their investment hasn't exactly paid off. One restaurant told 69 News that an AMP card has been used only once since September. "We're still in the beginning stages of it, and many not sure what it is," said Jesse Albertson, general manager, Allentown Brew Works. Albertson said the restaurant is starting to see more and more of the cards. He's optimistic about its future. "As more restaurants open up, more stores use the AMP card, the more people will be on board and the better it will be," Albertson said.

Easton launched a similar program in 2013. To date, $55,000 worth of cards have been sold, but Easton doesn't have corporate headquarters like PPL or National Penn Bank.

Hanna said the cards are helping to merge the old and the new of the city. "The goal is to unite the businesses in downtown, " he added.

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