Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

"Central Avenue, Downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico 2" by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Christmas is right around the corner, and what better way to not only buy a gift for a loved one but also support a business than shopping local? DowntownABQ Mainstreet Initiative has teamed up with California-based Yiftee, an ecard provider, to launch a local gift card that will be accepted at a host of businesses in the Downtown neighborhood. 

“I think it is a fantastic idea because it puts us on a map. It organizes us and highlights us that we are locally owned businesses and that we accept this card,” local studio owner and creative warrior Amy Baca Lopez said. The ecard will be accepted by La Michoacana Del Centro, Oni, Patrician Design, Sumner & Dene, Tuerta: A Sandwich Shop and Yummy’s Mini Donuts and Ice Cream.

As Albuquerque slowly bounces back from the pandemic, new businesses have started to pop up in the neighborhood. Baca Lopez opened her studio six months ago and couldn’t be happier that she chose the Downtown neighborhood. Downtown, through a series of reinvestments and a thriving urban community of artisans, looks to be finally coming back to life. The local gift card is just the latest of a series of initiatives that has reinvigorated the historical neighborhood at the center of the city.

The Mainstreet Initiative is still looking to add businesses to its gift card program for the upcoming holiday. To attract patrons to the program and to boost local sales, DowntownABQ Mainstreet Initiative will offer the chance to win an additional $25 for the first 200 people who buy a gift card worth $25. 

“Just another person walking through the door is always great for me, because I’m new. I’m in my sixth month here Downtown, so just more exposure and walking is economy. If someone walks through the door and sees the art in real life, it’s much different than looking at art on the internet,” Baca added. “It’s an extra incentive to come in.”

The desirability of the Downtown neighborhood comes from its convenience and walkability. Baca noted that she could have joined other artists in Old Town, but the limited space and expensive rent pushed her to consider Downtown, and she hasn’t regretted her decision. The foot traffic and Downtown’s famed Artwalks attract a lot of foot traffic and customers. “I like the sense of community out here, and it’s more urban. There’s also a lot of space out here,” Baca said. 

A gift card can be purchased at Yiftee’s website (bit.ly/3E7fZnU). The gift card launched on Black Friday.