Shoppers looking to snap up Woodward Dream Cruise merchandise in Berkley will be able to pay with plastic this year, a change that organizers hope will boost sales.
The City Council recently approved a contract that will allow First Data Merchant Services to process credit and debit card transactions made by community service organizations in the field, as well as at the .
The transactions will be encrypted and the money will be deposited directly into the city of Berkley's account at . First Data is the preferred vendor of Flagstar Bank.
Parks & Recreation Director Tom Colwell, who also serves as the city's Woodward Dream Cruise representative, said Wednesday that approximately 30 percent of cruise shoppers have used credit or debit cards so far this week in Berkley.
He said customers are more likely to buy – and buy more – when using a credit card, which will help the city and its vendors increase revenue by selling more merchandise at full price.
"Half the profit is for the city to help cover expenses. The other half is divided up among the community service organizations who sell the merchandise," Berkley Ad Hoc Woodward Dream Cruise Committee chairman Marc Coon wrote in an e-mail to Berkley Patch. "The community service organizations that sell the merchandise are, Berkley Junior Woman's Club, Tri-Community Coalition, Berkley-Huntington Woods Youth Assistance, Berkley Hoops, Berkley Bear Boosters and Friends of Berkley Parks & Rec.
"You will take note that all of the community service organizations that sell merchandise are highly active in our community and spend most or all of their funds to help children in the Berkley/Huntington Woods communities," Coon wrote.
The Tri-Community Coalition staffed the city's sales tent at 12 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue on Tuesday and saw a steady stream of business.
"It's great," Tri-Community Coalition project coordinator Corey James said. "People generally are walking away with something in their hand. It's been a steady stream of people, which I'm surprised by because (the Dream Cruise) hasn't really even started."
Items for sale include T-shirts, magnets, lapel pins, dashboard plaques, travel mugs, die-cast cars and hats.
Coon, who advocated for the new service, said he thinks allowing credit and debit card use during the Dream Cruise will have several impacts:
- It will allow community groups selling merchandise in Berkley to compete with those selling gear across Woodward in Royal Oak at Shrine Catholic Schools, which also take plastic.
- It will be safer for the salespeople, who will not have to carry as much cash.
- Customers using credit and debit cards will likely spend more.
"It's going really well," Coon said Tuesday at the sales tent. "When I pulled up at 4:30 (p.m.), they were surrounded by cars."
First Data also will provide credit and debit card services for the Parks & Recreation Department under the agreement that was approved July 16.
"An analysis of Recreation Department transaction costs discloses ... that the city can save approximately $117/month or $1,400/year in debit/credit card fees with a switch to First Data," reads a letter Colwell and Finance Director David Sabuda submitted to City Manager Jane Bais-DiSessa.
The department previously used Electronic Merchants System to process the transactions, which had been Flagstar's preferred vendor before the bank switched to First Data in 2009, the letter says.
"Really, by getting a lower (rate), we can offer lower fees," Colwell said Wednesday. "It's a win-win for everyone."
Wednesday: Approximately 3-9:30 p.m. at 12 Mile and Woodward.
Thursday: Approximately 3-9:30 p.m. at 12 Mile and Woodward.
Friday: 3-11 p.m. under the marquee in downtown Berkley; 5 to 10 p.m. at 12 Mile and Woodward, Edgewood and Woodward (in front of ), Catalpa and Woodward (in front of the Northpoint Medical building) and Cambridge and Woodward (in front of ).
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 12 Mile and Woodward, Edgewood and Woodward (in front of ), Catalpa and Woodward (in front of the Northpoint Medical building) and Cambridge and Woodward (in front of ).