Resident card helps Naples businesses thrive during summer lull

Tristan Spinski/Staff

Crowds pack the sidewalks and traffic streams along Fifth Avenue South in Naples on Thursday evening.

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI // Buy this photo

Tristan Spinski/Staff Crowds pack the sidewalks and traffic streams along Fifth Avenue South in Naples on Thursday evening.

Fifth Avenue South businesses are hoping for a spike in foot traffic as this season winds down. About 4,000 city residents are expected to flood the street for tonight’s Evening on Fifth event.

While it’s open to all, the night is geared toward the roughly 1,500 members of the Resident Club Card program, which encourages city residents to shop and dine locally — and year round.

That’s an important message this time of year as area businesses brace for the summer lull.

“We realize tourists and visitors coming is a wonderful thing, but they’re transient,” said Lise Sundrla, executive director of the street’s Business Improvement District. “But what we can count on and should recognize and appreciate are our local residents.”

More than 200 city businesses offer discounts to members of the Resident Club Card (RCC) program. Of the 200, 42 belong to the Business Improvement District. Participating businesses will offer their standard club perks along with some extra discounts tonight.

Amy Saad, a Lake Park resident and wife of Councilman Sam Saad, started the RCC program with two other women four years ago as a way to boost housing association memberships.

“It was initially just to boost membership, but it helps merchants get the locals to patronize them and to help rebuild the economy in such a way that helps everyone,” Saad said.

Any resident of the city can acquire the card. Those living within one of the eight housing associations that already register with the RCC program get the card free with their association membership. Those living outside one of the registered associations but within city limits can buy a card for $35 by filling out a form online.

Some business owners said that while they don’t see a huge amount of sales done with the card, they like that it spreads the shop-local sentiment this time of year.

“It’s a way to encourage people to use my businesses, basically,” said Frederik Overdijking, owner of 5th Avenue Coffee Company & 6th Street Diner. Overdijking offers a 10 percent discount to patrons of his newly renovated establishment.

Dwight Nadeau, owner of the fair trade gallery Toucan’s World along Eighth Street South, opened his businesses in 2012. This is his first year as an RCC business, and he’s hoping tonight’s event will give him some exposure to get through summer.

“I’ve had a pretty darn good season for a start-up,” Nadeau said. “And I have some cash reserves to take me through the summer. Hopefully I’ve done enough.”

For a complete list of the RCC businesses or to purchase a card, visit www.rccnaples.com. For additional information, call 239-285-5666

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