COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A couple of Clemson University students have come up with a way to help support small businesses facing financial hardships because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The idea came about shortly after Gov. Henry McMaster ordered all restaurants and bars in our state to close inside dining services back in mid-March.
Clemson sophomore, Sudarshan Sridharan, says after seeing a much slower pace in downtown Clemson, he was concerned about whether many local, small businesses would survive.
He joined forces with a freshman on campus and, together, the two designed a website called SaveMAPS, which stands for Save Mom-and-Pop Shops, created to help small businesses provide gift cards to customers.
This type of website already exists for businesses with gift cards already set up for purchase. What makes SaveMAPS different is companies that don’t have gift cards available can begin offering this service to their customers through this new website.
“We got calls from everywhere, people asking us to come to their city, their state and next thing you know, we’ve just taken off and started expanding. We started off just for restaurants, but now we support any local businesses. So, we work with yoga studios, we have boutiques listed, bars, clubs. Anything that is service-based, or just a shop that has a brand or a following that can sell gift cards is welcome on our site,” said Sridharan.
It’s a service being offered at no cost to the small business.
Sridharan tells WIS-TV, “We are covering all the costs ourselves. We run this at a loss, but that’s because the small businesses around here are probably losing a lot more money. Bills are racking up. We have a ‘Support SaveMAPS’ tab on our website where people can go donate. We just set that up a couple days ago. So, we will run this as long as we need to, but it’s getting a bit expensive.”
When the website was created just weeks ago, it started out as a way to help the 18 or so small businesses in the downtown Clemson area. They now have nearly 500 companies signed up from about 10 states, and a team full of students and volunteers from the across the country.
To sign up, visit: www.SaveMAPS.io.