Access Card gives residents, students discounts at Ames businesses

Shannon Hill

The Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau has issued the second edition of the Ames Access Card, and response regarding its effectiveness has been somewhat mixed.

The Access Card, issued in October, is a small credit card-sized coupon that gives discounts to visitors at participating Ames businesses.

Rich Harter, executive director of the ACVB, said the cards are personalized to particular events and meetings held in Ames.

“Each member or participant in the event is given a card,” he said, and those cards only last for a few days surrounding the event.

“We take these precautions to limit abuse of the cards,” he said.

Harter said the card is not offered to leisure travelers or individuals on business trips. It is only for group meetings, events and conventions.

Having a discount card such as this one lowers the barriers into the community, he said.

Research done in 1998 led the ACVB to believe these cards would get people to explore Ames more extensively and with greater accessibility.

Harter said a mix of non-university as well as university-based groups and conventions have taken advantage of the Ames Access Cards.

“We provided the cards for New Student Days at ISU and will continue to do that in the future,” he said.

The program is split into two editions per year to allow for seasonal attractions as well as new merchants who choose to get involved, Harter said.

“We had nine additional merchants join this second edition, bringing the number of merchants to 30,” he said.

Some of the local businesses participating have mixed opinions on whether the card has been effective.

John Crawford, general manager of Copyworks, 2502 1/2 Lincoln Way, said his store has been involved since the first edition and has had little response.

“I think that the chamber needs to do more promoting and advertising,” he said.

Crawford said Copyworks attracts mostly students because of its Campustown location, and he had hoped the Access Card would create more foot traffic from other people traveling to Ames.

Copyworks offers 50 percent off of as many as 100 standard size, black-and-white copies with the card.

Allyson Walter-Doud, owner of Olive’s and Complete Petite, 308 Main St., said the response at her store has not been overwhelming, but it was worthwhile.

“I think that it was valuable just for people to discover downtown Ames and our store,” she said.

Olive’s offers 10 percent off of regular priced merchandise and an additional 10 percent off sale merchandise.

Walter-Doud said being a part of the Ames Access Card program doesn’t cost her anything, and she thinks her store has benefited from it.