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Startup Launches “Shop Ross Valley” Program

Reloadable prepaid cards will be accepted at several San Anselmo and Fairfax businesses and can

 

A new tech startup is launching a program where community members can buy gift cards for a variety of Ross Valley businesses.

San Anselmo resident Magan Arthur co-founded Lolo Cards Inc. to try to bring the big-box store gift card concept to a local level. Arthur discussed Lolo’s basics at a small community meeting Aug. 2 at the San Anselmo Coffee Roastery. 

“Lolo combines local shoppers, local independent businesses and local charities and programs,” he said.

Community members can buy cards for a variety of amounts, such as $50 or $100, and use the cards at a variety of participating local merchants. They can also purchase cards where a specific amount goes to a community program they would like to support, such as donating $10 to help the San Anselmo Chamber realize plans for a downtown park on property George Lucas’ donated to chamber.

The cards are similar to a FasTrack account, where a user can check a card’s balance online and, down the road, will get to pay with a PIN number at some merchants.

The Lolo cards had a “soft launch” this week, Arthur said, and the full program roll out will begin in October, with an informational session slated for Oct. 4, at 6:30 p.m., at Gelato, 752 San Anselmo Ave.

Participating businesses will include:

  • Various & Sundries
  • Fairfax Coffee Roastery
  • Hairfax Studio
  • Cafe Lotus
  • San Anselmo Coffee Roastery
  • Dogville
  • Gelato
  • Marinitas
  • Ross Valley Veterinary Hospital
  • Marin Coffee Roasters
  • Golden Gate Tutoring Center
  • Kidzfaces (based in Fairfax)
  • Krakatoa Bikes 
  • The Gypsy Spa

Retailers and charities pay a small fee to be in the program, which is free for shoppers.

Organizers hope Lolo to become a national program with hundreds of cards for specific communities. Lolo officials are first launching the shop locally program in the Ross Valley and a few other areas in the Bay Area, including Menlo Park and for the Solano Avenue community in Berkeley.

Arthur said talks are also underway with Mill Valley, Tiburon, San Rafael, Novato and Petaluma.

Also, Arthur said, communities in Seattle, Atlanta and Rhode Island have also contacted the Lolo creators. But a national rollout of the program is a ways away. “We are not ready to go national.” 

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Arvid P. Sloan September 21, 2012 at 05:30 PM
This is a fantastic idea. I plan on buying these cards as gifts for the upcoming holidays.
Laurel Hodge September 21, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I'm so glad to see a program like this coming to San Anselmo, and that the founders are local. This will be a great way to give allowance to my teenagers.
Mary Obrian September 22, 2012 at 02:35 AM
What a great idea. This is a whole new spin on "keeping it local".
Jessica Mullins (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Just in: the Lolo Shop Local Cards will go on sale beginning Oct. 1 in multiple locations throughout Ross Valley.

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