Facebook Gift Card Raffle Raises $20K for Superior Local Businesses So Far

Councilors Brent Fennessey and Craig Sutherland started the closed group two weeks ago.

SUPERIOR, Wis,- Like the rest of the Northland, normally busy streets and storefonts in Superior are bare as local businesses cope with being partially or completely shut down. Two Superior City Councilors decided to raise money for them, by raffling gift cards on Facebook.

Weeks later, the small boost they hoped to give businesses is turning into a big help.

“I call it like, a small business stimulus package, to help them out through times like these,” said 8th District Councilor Craig Sutherland.

Sutherland was approached by fellow Councilor of the 5th District Brent Fennessey, both wanting to help business owners. “We see the businesses that are struggling, we see the need that they have,” Fennessey said.

So with help from the Superior Elks organization, the closed Facebook group Superior Gift Card Club was born, blending technology with an old-fashioned fundraising tool.

“It’s just like a normal raffle where you buy for a chance to win,” said Fennessey. “If it’s a $100 gift card, there’s 10 spots each and everybody just picks a spot, pays for it, and then we take the proceeds from that, purchase it from a local business here in Superior, and then they mail it out.”

Using a random number generator, they announce the gift card winners on Facebook Live at the end of the day.

And the dollars keep adding up.

“Over $20,000,” Fennessey said.

“A couple weeks ago when Brent called with this wild idea, I didn’t think 14 days down the road or 15-16 days down the road we’d be at $20,000. That’s huge,” said Sutherland.

20 grand in gift cards going out to different businesses. A Dozen Excuses Restaurant on Tower Avenue received $300 from this.

“To be honest with you, I was very shocked and overwhelmed, and very thankful,” owner Melissa Hyatt said. “And I didn’t think that anybody would be coming up with any idea like this, but it’s an ingenious idea and they’re not leaving anybody out.”

While most restaurants still do curbside pickup and delivery, other businesses like Once Again Used and New on Belknap are completely shut down–so the gift cards mean even more.

“It’s a $100, so anything helps, especially when we’re closed these days,” the gift shop’s owner, Twila Uotinen, said about the money she’s received so far. “So I, it helped pay for my Superior Water and Light bill anyway, so that was awesome.”

Many other businesses in the area have been left surviving off gift cards or certificates. “If you can still by a gift card from them, help them stay afloat in the long run, it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Sutherland.

The two councilors said all thanks go to the 1300 in the Facebook group. They hope to keep up the raffle for as long as they can.

“It’s not us who are making this happen, it’s everybody who’s a part of this, taking the spots, pumping that money into the small businesses that normally wouldn’t see this kind of purchase, of the gift cards,” Fennessey said.

The perfect example of community helping community. “It just warms your heart that there are so many good people in this area,” said Uotinen.

“If we can keep that momentum going and we’re keeping the money in the community, it’s going to cause a lot of small businesses to be able to stay open,” Hyatt said.

While the Facebook group remains closed, the councilors encourage others to buy more gift cards from area businesses to use when they open back up.

That’s the hope, said Fennessey, once life goes back to normal.

“Help them curb this until the Stay at Home order is lifted,” he said, “and everybody can get back to business.”

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