TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
BusinessCoronavirus

Digital passport aims to drive shoppers downtown with discounts

As a way to help downtown businesses from

As a way to help downtown businesses from the reeling effects of the pandemic, officials have come up with a digital  pass that offers shoppers discounts at more than 100 merchants in six downtowns. Newsday's Steve Langford has more.  Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

Brewer Manny Coelho sees a new digital mobile passport with discounts for shoppers in local downtowns as helping Lithology Brewing Co. in Farmingdale, which he partially owns, to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Long Island Downtown Deals Travel Pass “is going to bring people to downtown and they’re going to get to know our brand, the quality of beer that we have,” he said. “Some will become loyal customers, repeat customers. We need that because we’re hurting.”

Lithology, a farm brewery where at least 60% of the ingredients come from New York State, has a coupon on the mobile passport for 15% off beer, wine and spirits consumed on premise.

The passport was unveiled Thursday by the tourism promotions agency Discover Long Island and both counties.

"Small businesses in our downtowns need immediate assistance to drive economic recovery,” said Kristen Jarnagin, CEO of the tourism agency.

The mobile passport is free to use for both shoppers and retailers. It initially is limited to businesses in six downtowns: Farmingdale, Great Neck, Greenport, Huntington, Patchogue and Rockville Centre. More than 100 merchants are listed so far.

Shoppers can sign up for the mobile passport at discoverlongisland.com/deals, a link will be sent to their cellular telephone that opens the pass, and they will be directed to add a button icon to their home screen. The passport can be used at any time and unlike an app, doesn’t require the user to download information, Jarnagin said.

The mobile passport was developed by the digital marketing company Bandwango in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Nassau County and Suffolk County industrial development agencies split the $13,500 cost.

Nassau IDA chairman Richard Kessel said the passport “will provide an economic boost to our local businesses and downtowns, which are a top priority for us.”

Suffolk IDA executive director Anthony J. Catapano agreed, adding, “We look forward to the program's success spreading throughout the downtowns of Long Island.”

Officials seeking to have a downtown added to the mobile passport should send an email to tourism@discoverlongisland.com.

The passport's debut follows the June introduction of a mobile app by the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers of Commerce Inc. My Local Pickup is a feature of the 10-year-old MyChamberApp and promotes curbside pickup.

On Thursday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone both encouraged Long Islanders and tourists to use the Long Island Downtown Deals Travel Pass, saying, it could help small businesses stay afloat.

That’s what Coelho, the Farmingdale brewer, hopes will happen.

He and his four partners closed Lithology’s tasting room and stopped making beer at 211A Main St. in March after nonessential activity was shut down to slow the coronavirus’ spread.

Lithology laid off four employees and began taking orders via lithologybrewing.com. Coelho, the only remaining employee, handled takeout and curbside pickup orders and made home deliveries.

The brewery reopened in June, and with a Paycheck Protection Program loan, rehired the laid off employees and took on two more. It received free personal protective equipment, or PPE, from the Nassau IDA.

“We have to be able to be here at the end of this,” Coelho said, referring to the pandemic. “Right now, we’re treading water.”

Sign up to get COVID-19 text alerts.

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

More news