Jun 23, 2007
Mom-and-pop gift cards; These modern alternatives to gift certificates are going localBy Ilana DeBareSFGate.com

From Christmas stockings to bar mitzvah bashes, plastic gift cards from big chain stores have become an accepted part of American gift-giving over the past decade.

Now, local retailers are getting into the act, offering gift cards instead of old-fashioned gift certificates.

A small but growing number of neighborhood stores are starting to sell their own branded gift cards, spurred by advances in point-of-sale technology that make it relatively cheap and easy for them to process the cards.DeLessio Market and Bakery, with two bakery-cafe locations in San Francisco, has sold about 3,000 gift cards in the past two years. Most are bought by regular customers who use the cards to pay for their morning coffee.

“I’d seen gift cards all over the place and thought, ‘Why can’t we do this?’ ” general manager Bob DeTulio said.

And Three Bee’s Nursery, a garden store in the city’s Richmond District, sells cards to a variety of customers, including real estate agents who use them as thank-you gifts for clients.

“It’s a great service, and it just goes through our credit card machine,” said Dorcas McIntosh, who owns the nursery with her son Ben Kelley.

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