Why Leave Town was established in 2007 by school mates Ashley Watt and Justin Smith with one aim: to show Narrabri locals just how much there is to do and see within one small town. 15 years, 80 different communities and $17 million dollars worth of reinvestment later, it’s safe to say the ‘shop local’ message has been well and truly embraced all around Australia.
When a customer purchases a Why Leave Town gift card, the holder can buy goods in any participating store in that community. Our cards cannot be used outside of the participating shops. This means that every time one of our cards is purchased, the money stays ‘local’. The gift cards can be used more than once, across multiple stores, and are the perfect gift for those ‘hard-to- buy-for’ friends and family members.
While the gift card remains our primary focus, Why Leave Town offers far more than just plastic. We have a close relationship with hundreds of local councils, chambers, organisations and businesses, all of whom appreciate and respect our authenticity and decade-long dedication to encouraging Australians to ‘shop local’.
Formed in the rural New South Wales town of Narrabri, we understand the importance of a strong and healthy community. In particular, our focus is in providing programs and tools that help local businesses thrive.
WLT Gift Card Program
Fill out the details below to receive more information about the Why Leave Town Gift Card Program.
While some gift card providers disappear once your cards are in the post, Why Leave Town is about more than just providing card stock. We have a track record of success in building long-term partnerships with councils and business chambers to help keep funds locally. To help keep people spend in local stores, again and again. While the gift card is our primary vehicle for doing this, we also provide a range of marketing and data-driven services to give your community the best chance of success.
More About Our Founders
Ashley Watt and Justin Smith
Best mates and business partners Ashley Watt and Justin Smith are classic Aussie ‘locals’. Not only do they hail from the same small town of Narrabri in NSW, they also grew up across from each other — on the same street!
When both Justin and Ashley returned to Narrabri in 2007, they loved their tight knit community but lamented the lack of ways to support local retailers. Ashley says, ‘I had no idea what to get Mum for Mother’s Day one year, so naturally I gravitated to a gift card. However, while I was looking for the right card to buy her, I noticed every single card was for use in a large, corporate business. That really got me thinking … why can’t we have a gift card that uses the same technology, but instead supports a small business?’
From there, the Why Leave Town gift card was born.
‘There’s been plenty of appetite over time,’ Justin says. ‘Councils are always looking for ways to keep dollars in the region, and business chambers approached us early on saying that it’s a great way to add value to their offering. When their members say, ‘why should I join the chamber?’, they can pick up a local gift card and tell them why!’
The ‘shop local’ phenomenon is doing anything but slowing down, with the Covid pandemic and supply chain issues driving customers back to local stores and highlighting their importance.
Ashley and Justin have no interest in slowing down. Justin says, ‘The next step for us is to address any barriers with the current gift card, and expand our gift card offering. We are keen to implement a digital gift card and offer ways for customers to make purchases with local retailers who operate online.’
Ashley has a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney, with over 15 years experience in consumer market research. Working with major brands like Westpac, Telstra and Dairy Farmers, Ashley became interested in utilising his big brand knowledge and applying it instead to smaller retailers. Ashley founded Why Leave Town in 2007, juggling the often frantic workload while raising four kids with his wife, Carley. Ashley is the author of the book Why Leave Town: Practical Ways to Encourage People to Shop Locally and regularly speaks and engages with governments, local councils and local chambers of commerce about the economic and social importance of local spend.
Justin has over 25 years of experience in sales and customer service. He is presently managing director of company JA Smith Solutions, based in Narrabri and servicing Australia. Justin is also President of the Narrabri Industrial Network. Given his active role in the agricultural & fast growing industrial sectors of the Narrabri region, Justin has had to step away from many of the daily operations of Why Leave Town. However, Justin is still heavily involved in formulating the strategic direction of Why Leave Town and is always available to share his knowledge and experience of working in the shop local space for many years.
With more than 20 years under her belt in business management, crossing a diverse range of industries, Kristy is your contact and support when rolling out a community gift card program with Why Leave Town. Kristy offers daily support to participating businesses and cardholders and ensures that our programs run effectively and efficiently. She is the go to person whenever there are any issues with cards or terminals and loves nothing more than jumping into transaction data to quickly resolve any problems.
Online Card Sales
Although Carley has been a ‘silent’ partner in the business since its conception, she only officially joined the day-to-day operations team in July 2019. Carley holds a Bachelor of Speech Pathology and worked in this profession for several years both in the public system and privately. She also has a few years under her belt as a homeschooling parent/teacher. Both of these experiences has helped Carley develop strong communication and organisational skills that play an important part in her role as heading up our online card sales department.
Shop Local Consultant
Rhys holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Media from the University of New South Wales, with a decade of experience owning and operating small businesses across both media and hospitality. In 2023 Rhys stepped back from his role as Why Leave Town’s National Sales & Marketing Manager to publish his first crime fiction novel! Ash and Rhys are not at all competitive about whose book will sell more copies. Rhys is still involved with WLT in a consultancy capacity, focusing predominately on helping to increase local business and shopper engagement.
Online Card Sales Support
Kennedy is an aspiring ballet dancer who is funding this career ambition by helping out in her parents business. In particular, Kennedy assists with the daily processing of online card orders as well as building the knowledge base of Why Leave Town’s processes and operating procedures. As a Gen Zer, Kennedy also assists with WLT’s social media and ensuring that we stay hip (is it ok to say ‘hip’ Ken?) and relevant.
Moe & Milo
Moe and Milo are cats…so they don’t actually contribute a lot to the daily operations of Why Leave Town. However, they are very punctual and put in long hours each day in the office…usually tucked away in a box sitting on top of one of the office desks. We do apologise for any white cat hair that might find its way into any cards we send out.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Most Common Questions Regarding Our Community Gift Card Program
Why Leave Town (WLT) is a small business who partners with local government councils and business chambers around Australia. Through this connection, Why Leave Town provides everything involved to run and maintain a community gift card program, where loaded funds can only be spent in the nominated region.
We provide our partners with everything needed to run a successful local gift card program. We offer:
Design, production and distribution of a bespoke ‘Shop Local’ eftpos branded gift card
A full subscription to our service, which includes business hours’ support for our partners, participating retailers and cardholders
Relevant materials and activation assistance, to ensure all participating stores are ready to sell and accept the local gift card
Detailed reporting on the funds loaded and redeemed in the gift card program
Full access to our website, for the use of partners, businesses and cardholders
Buying a Local Gift Card
See our ‘Participating Stores’ page to locate community gift card programs around Australia. Each page contains a list of participating stores. On this page you can filter where to ‘buy’ and ‘spend’ a card.
Our local gift cards are available to purchase online:
Absolutely. Why Leave Town has many corporate businesses who support their communities by purchasing local gift cards for incentives, rewards and end of year gifts.
If you’re after more than 5 gift cards, please click on the link below. Once you have filled out the form, an invoice will be emailed for payment and the cards will be dispatched to your nominated address.
All WLT local gift cards must be redeemed in store with a participating retailer. At the time of payment, you must swipe the local gift card through the retailer’s eftpos terminal. Select ‘SAVINGS’ and enter the 4-digit PIN located on the back of the gift card.
If the participating retailer allows it, you can split the payment (i.e if something costs $50, and the gift card balance is $20, you can pay $20 with your gift card, and pay the remaining $30 with cash or another card).
Gift Card Balance
Yes. Follow this link to check your gift card balance. Make sure you have the card number and PIN handy.
Your gift card is just like cash and you are responsible for keeping it safe at all times. We encourage cardholders to register their gift card. In the event of a lost card, we can then issue a replacement. However, cards must be registered in order for a replacement to be issued.