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You can buy a discount card for local businesses — but first, show your NH ID

  • NH Locals card

Concord Monitor
Published: 12/21/2019 10:39:52 PM
Modified: 12/21/2019 10:39:49 PM

In an era of quickie delivery from online stores, making face-to-face purchases at local shops takes extra effort. The Locals Card wants to increase the value of that effort with discounts — but only for New Hampshire residents.

“We’re trying to act as a stimulant, so we have to restrict it,” said Jonathan Noury-Elliard, founder of a startup called NH Rocks that issues the discount card.

So far about 50 companies are participating, offering a variety of discounts to cardholders. Companies range from breweries, wineries and coffee shops to gift shops, inns and recreational sites like paintball, go-kart racing and outdoor-gear rentals. Plus a dentist and an eyewear store.

The card costs $20 for a year. It is sold at various NH Rocks events and also online, but only if you upload a picture of your driver’s license or photo ID to show that you live in the state.

“In reviewing your order if we discover you are a nonresident, we will cancel your order and send you a refund,” the website says.

Enforcing that state connection is a big part of the incentive for NH Rocks, an event and business listing site that partners with StayWorkPlay, a state government program to lure and keep young adults in New Hampshire.

“We want to increase the sense of community,” Noury-Elliard said.

Noury-Elliard started NH Rocks two years ago and launched the Locals Card this year. It’s still a very small operation — he’s the only paid full-time employee — but he has high hopes.

Noury-Elliard is a New Hampshire native, a graduate of Belmont High School who went to college out of state, then spent some time in California before returning and working on his MBA from Southern New Hampshire University. “I’m a boomeranger,” is how he puts it.

The Locals Card is hardly the first attempt to help businesses keep money in the community via a discount card. Many of them have come and gone, Noury-Elliard acknowledged, often because they don’t generate enough sales to be worth businesses’ time and money.

Noury-Elliard thinks the Locals Card is different because it’s harnessing digital tools to spread its reach and to take advantage of the NH Rocks website and publicity.

“There’s the psychology of discount: People end up spending more money on site and are more inclined to visit, if they know they’re going to get a discount,” he said.

There’s one other incentive for businesses: “Any discount given under the NH Rocks umbrella counts as a generalized marketing expense” which means it counts for a tax writeoff.

“It’s not just a way to get people to the door ... for increased foot traffic and increased cash spending. When it comes tax season, I think it will be really interesting,” Noury-Elliard said.

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