MODESTO (CBS13) — Spending cash in Stanislaus County is now a little easier on your pocketbook. A local nonprofit is paying customers to shop local to help struggling businesses.
"It's pretty much free money, there is the incentive to come and spend it locally," said customer, Tyne Adraktas.
Tyne Adraktas ate for free Friday, paying for her food using the RAD card. It's a local app where you put money in and get more out.
"Every dollar counts, where you could also save yourself and help a business that might be struggling right now is very important," she explained.
The app allows for a one-time match of up to $100 to spend in downtown districts across Stanislaus County.
"At least 50% of my customers have been using the card," explained boutique owner, Liliana Sousa-Downs.
It's boosting business during the holidays for stores like Liliana Downtown Boutique, which opened during the pandemic.
"This has been vital to getting people in the doors," she explained. "A great thing in a hard time, just what we needed, something to give us a light at the end of the tunnel and some incentive."
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The extra money is driving customers to buy more.
"I was already planning to shop small for my gifts but I was happy I was able to go to two boutiques instead of one," said customer Karla Noguera.
The program started with $250,000 in private donor funding in the summer given to the nonprofit, Downtown Modesto Partnership.
"Within two weeks, all of those funds were depleted and customers were asking for more," said Stephanie Foster, Director of District Identity at Downtown Modesto Partnership.
CARES Act funding has kept the program running adding $2,000,000 to the pot. Each downtown area has a limit in the matching funds that can be used at close to 200 local shops keeping businesses alive during the holiday season and hopefully into the next year.
"Those funds can be deployed quickly in a meaningful way that satisfies both the need to stretch the household spending dollar but also supports the small businesses and makes sure this money isn't going to large corporations," Foster explained.
Ten thousand customers have signed up for the RAD card that is being used at around 160 local businesses throughout the county. The Downtown Modesto Partnership was just approved for $1,000,000 over the weekend. Despite CARES Act funding ending at the end of the year, funds already allotted for the RAD card can be used until they are gone.
The app that was locally produced and designed by the Downtown Modesto Partnership has been so successful that other counties and states are asking to use the app.
You can find the app here: https://www.theradcard.com/
for more features.