Santa Barbara Axxess, a membership-based advertising company that connects consumers with small businesses, is now selling discounted gift certificates for businesses in Montecito and Summerland in an effort to assist area businesses as they recover from the tragedies that struck Santa Barbara County within the last two months.
These certificates are providing an immediate cash flow for the restaurants, stores, and services that have been hit the hardest and need the money now much more than they will down the road. Karim Kaderali, CEO of Santa Barbara Axxess, said the consumer reach of his company put him in a unique position where he knew he could have a positive impact in the community.
“I’ve spent some time over the past weeks visiting with friends and clients on Coast Village Road and hearing their stories. Often with tears in their eyes, they worry how they’re going to keep their doors open. As an owner of a small business myself, I knew I had to do something to help,” Kaderali said.
Kaderali said Axxess removed other gift cards for businesses that they typically sell online to keep the focus on the Montecito and Summerland businesses they are helping, and many of the gift cards are for businesses that are not prior Axxess clients. They have sold over 50 gift cards so far, and while Kaderali said he does not have a specific goal in mind in regards to how many he wants to sell, he said that every dollar helps.
The idea to sell gift cards came from Paul Orfalea, a Montecito resident, philanthropist and the founder of Kinko’s. “Having the various enterprises we have in the upper and lower villages is such a vital element in the heart and soul of Montecito; a loss of any of them is a loss to all,” Orfalea stated. “We need to look for ways we can support our small businesses. Without them, our jewel of a little piece of paradise would lose a significant portion of its unique sparkle.”
In addition to the gift-card fundraising campaign, Axxess raised thousands of dollars for victims of the Thomas Fires in December by donating 50 percent of its Axxess book sales to the United Way Thomas Fire Fund.
Axxess has raised over $1.8 million for local schools and nonprofits since 2004, and was named Santa Barbara’s “Community Business of the Year” by Goleta Chamber of Commerce in 2011, and “Small Business of the Year” by Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce in 2013.