IC Downtown District launches Local Rewards program

Formerly known as Simperks, the Iowa City Downtown District has taken over the rewards program as it has expanded.


Emily Nyberg

The Iowa City Pedestrian Mall is seen on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

Hannah Lipski, News Reporter

The Iowa City Downtown District launched a new rewards program for shoppers to use.

The rewards program was created to incentivize customers to shop at small businesses. They are rewarded with every purchase at the businesses that are participating in the program.

Formerly known as SimPerks, the program, now named Local Rewards, is being rebranded after it expanded. Developer of SimPerks Sam Schrup gave the program over to the Iowa City Downtown District.

The program is specific to Iowa City businesses, but if a business has a location outside of Iowa City, it will include its other stores as well.

Customers can sign up online or at businesses in the Iowa City Downtown District for free.

Christopher Hunter, Iowa City Downtown District director of special events, said the program is a beneficial way for local businesses to receive exposure.

“It’s just a great way to find out other stores that exist here and just kind of be a part of their program and see what’s going on in their stores,” Hunter said.

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Hunter said with the launch of the program, there are also going to be double rewards days for the participating stores. It will occur on the second Tuesday of every month, with the first one planned for May 9.

“And that’ll be to help kind of kick-off shopping for Mother’s Day for people looking to buy those special gifts,” Hunter said.

The other planned dates for double rewards days include June 13, July 11, Aug. 8, Sept. 12, Oct. 10, Nov. 14, and Dec. 12.

Hunter said there will be other events throughout the year as well. A friends and family weekend is being planned, and businesses may also have their own bonus points days or extra perks days as well. Each business will notify it’s participating customers through email when those occur.

The businesses included in the rewards program span across Iowa City, including some stores with locations in other cities in Iowa:

  • 223 Baby Co.
  • 223 Vintage in West Branch
  • Catherine’s Boutique in both Iowa City and Davenport
  • Discerning Eye
  • Fin & Feather Inc.
  • Dulcinea
  • Revival
  • Textiles Inc.
  • Velvet Coat in both Iowa City and Des Moines

More businesses are also planning on joining the program, including AKAR, Basic Goods, Beno’s Flowers & Gifts, and Willow & Stock.

Textiles Inc. Owner Ritu Jain was a part of the SimPerks program and decided to transition over to the Local Rewards program.

“I think it’s just kind of a nice thank you to our customers for shopping with us. So, we give them points that turn into store credit for shopping here. So, it’s just a way to get people to come back,” Jain said.

Jain said she has all of her customer’s birthdays who participate in the rewards program on file so the store can send them a birthday discount. Jain can also use customer’s emails to promote events that the entire program participates in or Textiles Inc. individually, she said.

As much as Local Rewards is an umbrella program, Jain said there are some standardizations. For every 125 points, a customer gets a $5 reward. Additionally, businesses can run specials on their own.

Overall, Jain said the transition from the SimPerks program to the Local Rewards program has been seamless.

“It’s a nice way to build our business and keep in touch with our customers,” Jain said.