Punch your way to discounts at Main Street Market Café with new loyalty card

Published 11:23 am Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Main Street Market Café has begun rewarding its patrons.

On Monday, the local restaurant rolled out a loyalty punch card to incentivize cash payments over cards.

“For every five punches, you can get $4 off of the price of a meal, or you can get a free dessert or an add-on gumbo,” Main Street Market owner Sally Bullard said.

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Many businesses, including locally owned restaurants, have begun to add a 4-percent surcharge to customers paying with credit to recuperate the fees charged by credit card companies.

Bullard said Main Street Market has chosen to opt out of increasing a patron’s bill by adding on a surcharge, and instead is rewarding customers for paying in cash.

Bullard said credit card companies have always charged businesses fees. But now that there are so many different types of credit cards, that offer their own incentives, it makes it challenging for a small business like Main Street Market to keep up.

“You can’t even look at it and know if it (the merchant’s charge from the credit card company) is even right or not, because the difference between one Visa card and another is the difference in what your rewards are,” Bullard said. “And for a small business like me that’s Monday through Friday — lunch only — my fee for credit cards basically ends up being like, five payrolls because that’s how much my credit card charges are.”

The use of paying with cards increased during the COVID-19 pandemic since many consumers were hesitant to exchange cash. According to November 2021 data from the Nilson Report, consumer and commercial credit, debit and prepaid general-purpose cards generated $9.7 trillion in transactions in 2021, which was a 22.5 percent increase over the previous year.

Due to this uptick, more businesses began implementing a surcharge to offset their fees to credit card companies.

And with this surge of credit card use, Bullard said, “I had to find a way to get cash back in my building, so (the punch card) is what we came up with.”

Bullard credited Visit Vicksburg Executive Director Laura Beth Strickland with the idea of implementing a loyalty card.

“I thought that was a great idea because I do have people coming in three or four days a week, and if I could turn them from using their debit card or credit card two days a week, that’s groovy,” Bullard said.

So far, Bullard said her patrons have responded positively to the punch cards.

“People have been really excited about (the punch cards),” Bullard said. “They have come in saying, ‘I went to the bank and got my $20,’ and I appreciate it.”

According to consumeraaffairs.com, tacking on a surcharge was not always legal. However, in 2017 when a series of court decisions were made by the U.S. Supreme Court, surcharges became legal in every state but Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas,  Massachusetts and Maine.

For customers who choose to use their credit cards, Bullard noted they may want to compare the incentives offered to the cost of surcharges. In some cases, it may just be a wash.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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