BANGOR, Maine — Eight Bangor Savings Bank employees donned their blue-and-white hard hats Friday and took to the city’s downtown to hand out $10 gift certificates to five West Market Square restaurants hurt by this summer and fall’s construction there.
In all, 200 cards were distributed to people walking around downtown during an unadvertised hourlong event around lunchtime.
The idea is to generate extra business for restaurants that have been a bit more difficult to reach this summer and fall, according to Lisa Bird and Stacey Haskell of the bank’s marketing and community relations division.
While the cards have no expiration dates, Bird and Haskell hope recipients will use them soon.
Friday’s giveaway was a surprise to many in the community, the women said.
“We had a little teaser earlier this week on social media — ‘Be on the lookout for the Bangor Savings Bank construction crew.’” Bird said.
Haskell said the idea came from one of the bank’s executives.
“Our chief operating officer, Bob Montgomery-Rice, had seen the article in the [Bangor Daily News] about how the West Market Square restaurants were being affected by it. That was a couple of weeks ago. That got us to thinking about how can we help. So we thought this was one way.”
“We only did the five businesses that were the most directly affected by the construction,” Bird said.
Bird and Haskell said that the bank checked with the restaurants first to see if they wanted to participate.
“Absolutely,” Haskell said. “They were over the moon for us doing that because, as you can imagine, business has slowed down for them.”
Bird said that when she called upon each of the businesses to see if they were interested, it was during the business day.
“And they were not busy,” she said. “It’s been like that all summer.”
Each business was allotted the same number of gift cards, which were handed out randomly, Bird and Haskell said.
“We encouraged them to go out and patronize the restaurants,” Haskell said.
It was 11:30 a.m. when Bangor Savings staffers began handing out gift cards to people walking around downtown.
“Some of them were headed to lunch, so when they got a gift certificate to say, Paddy Murphy’s, they said, ‘That’s where I’m going for lunch.’ So that’s were they headed. It was great to see that,” Bird said.
The bank officials said that the $2,000 in funds for the program came from the bank’s corporate giving fund.
“We’re a local business, so we have to support each other,” Bird said. “They’re in our community.”
Added Haskell: “We’re always looking for ways to support our communities and our businesses.”
The bank is not the only entity to support the West Market Square businesses. Earlier this summer, the Downtown Partnership held the Hard Hat Happy Hour Series in an effort to get people to visit the affected restaurants and pubs.