The bigger they are, the harder they are to find on LocalGiftCards.com, a website set up to sell small merchants' gift cards exclusively.
The new site is still gathering merchants — its catalog covers just 20 U.S. states, and in most states it lists just one or two merchants.
A further challenge to the site is the forecast that gift-card spending will decline as prepaid cards grow, according to Javelin Strategy and Research — it predicts that just 2.7% of point of sale purchases in 2017 will be made with gift cards, compared to 3.2% in 2011. In dollars, that's a roughly $15 billion drop in spending.
However, Smart Transaction Systems Inc., the Boulder, Colo.-based company behind LocalGiftCards.com, says there is a strong appetite for cards sold by smaller merchants.
"We're connecting small businesses with their biggest fans," Sarah Miller, the site's marketing director, said in a press release June 19. "There are dozens of websites selling gift cards for big box stores and national chains, but consumers know that shopping with local, small businesses is better. They want an alternative."
Tark's Indoor Golf Club, a company based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., says it sells a significant number of its gift cards online, rather than in person.
"Since we started selling gift cards online, sixty-three percent of our online sales are for e-gift cards — that's twenty-five percent of our total gift card sales — those are sales we would have missed without LocalGiftCards.com," Kent Tarkleson, who owns Tark's, said in the release.
Smart Transaction Systems is soliciting suggestions for new small-business participants on its website and its Facebook page.