With restaurants in the Seattle area shut down or drastically limiting service during the COVID-19 pandemic, many (including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee) have suggested buying gift cards to help keep small businesses afloat. Last week, the Intentionalist — an online shopping guide that highlights Seattle area businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ+, families, and people with disabilities — launched a gift certificate marketplace meant for shops and restaurants that either had no capacity to sell gift cards online before or are now seeking more online visibility.
The Intentionalist doesn’t charge businesses any fees for the service, nor does it take any cut from the gift card sales (100 percent of sales goes directly to each restaurant). There is a request for buyers to “tip” the website for keeping the marketplace commission free, but it’s optional. Some of the restaurants included among the 24 businesses currently listed are venerable Capitol Hill restaurant Terra Plata, Ethiopian spot Amy’s Merkato in South Seattle, and the Central District’s seafood market and cafe Seattle Fish Guys. All are currently open for takeout.
If the Intentionalist can keep growing its gift card marketplace, it could help fill the gap between larger restaurant groups that already have a gift card system in place and smaller, independent businesses with neither the resources or time to create one on their own during the crisis. Restaurants can request to be added to the service here.