"Local business make our region great. And loving local businesses just got sweeter."

Neighborhood Notes recently sent out more than 75 Supportland rewards cards loaded with points as a thank you to those that filled out our reader survey. And in response, we got a few questions, like “How do you use this thing?”

Supportland co-founder Katrina Scotto di Carlo isn’t caught off guard: “Supportland is an experimental concept that has truly never been done, so it's not surprising that there's some head scratching,” she admits.

What is Supportland?

Supportland supports local. Or as Scotto di Carlo puts it: "Supportland rewards folks for doing right by their community."

A rewards system for locally owned businesses and the neighbors who love them, Supportland helps its 101 participating businesses reward more than 30,000 cardholders with points. It's the equivalent of a supermarket club card or frequent flyer miles, but you're rewarded for patronizing indie businesses. You earn points for shopping at locally owned businesses and accumulated points can be spent on various rewards from any participating business.

If you earn 50 points for making a purchase at a local boutique, you can turn around and spend 30 on a cup of coffee. Or put those points toward an oil change. Or fresh ink from the tattoo parlor.

Plus, the Supportland card also functions like those classic paper punch cards, except you don’t have to stuff your wallet with a bunch of individual paper cards. Your Your Supportland card is like having dozens of punch cards in your wallet on a single card that automatically tracks all of your purchases. You can still get your punches without those hole-ridden, beat up pieces of paper.

Points vs. Punches

Present your Supportland card at time of purchase, and the merchant will swipe it to automatically add points (or a punch) to your card.
Present your Supportland card at time of purchase, and the merchant will swipe it to automatically add points (or a punch) to your card.

There are two distinctly separate functions of the Supportland card: points and punches.

"Supportland points are cross-business (you pick 'em up whenever you swipe at a participating business), whereas punches are just a digital form of the old school paper punch card and are business-specific," Scotto di Carlo explains.

This means you can cash in points at any business, from the tattoo parlor to the auto shop even if you earned them by drinking coffee or buying clothing. But, you CANNOT use your buy-five-scoops-of-ice-cream-and-get-one-free punch card to get a cup of coffee next door. Got it?


How to Get the Most Out of Your Supportland Card

"We run funny little promotions all the time and hide rewards in the network—extra points, gift cards, etc.," Scotto di Carlo says. "You can either stay tuned to everything we're doing and take advantage of it all strategically, or you can merrily stumble into radness by just remembering to take your card out everywhere. We designed the system both ways as I am a clear strategist when it comes to this sort of thing and my husband (developer and co-founder) is the opposite, but we wanted to create something for both of us. I really love when someone just innocently swipes their card on the network and wins something they had no idea was even out there. It's like the local economy just jumped up and hugged them.”

Speaking of hugs and local love, the next Supportland promotion is on Feb. 14, better known to consumers, and lovers, as Valentine’s Day. “The Valentine's Day Doubler makes everyone's points worth double,” Scotto di Carlo says. “Folks should rack up points in advance of Feb. 14 when you'll be able to get a 500 point massage with just 250 points in your account, for example.”

For all the tech-savvy types, mobile apps are currently in the works for iPhone and Android.

"While the market is tipping, businesses still love the card because they don't want a program that disenfranchises all their customers that don't yet have a smartphone," Scotto di Carlo says. "I do dream of a day when the card and mobile app are one."

Until then, Supportland aims to continue bringing big-box technology to local business owners, which allows you to carry around one rewards card that functions at a variety of locally owned businesses where you can earn and redeem points while also racking up punches without having to keep track of a plethora of tiny cards.


Supportland Quick Start Guide

Pretty neat that you can earn points by shopping at your fave indie businesses, and then redeem your points for cool stuff like an hour of sewing, huh?
Pretty neat that you can earn points by shopping at your fave indie businesses, and then redeem your points for cool stuff like an hour of sewing, huh?

  • Pick up your FREE Supportland card at any participating Supportland business and register it online
  • Check out the list of member businesses to find out where you can use your card and redeem your rewards. (Your fave indie businesses not on the list? Ask them to consider joining! They can attend a Supportland info session to learn more.)
  • Present your card at member businesses at time of purchase. Earn 15 points every time you patronize a new business in the Supportland network plus earn 5 daily points every time you visit your favorite spots.
  • Use your Supportland card like a punch card at multiple businesses without having to keep track of individual paper punch cards.
  • Login to Supportland.com to view your digital wallet. You'll be able to see rewards you've claimed and points and punches you've accrued.
  • Points burning a hole in your wallet? Check out the cool rewards member businesses are offering, claim the reward(s) you want, and then visit the merchant to redeem it.

Still have questions about using your Supportland card? Sound off below.

Disclosure: Supportland is a partner of Neighborhood Notes.