he City of Tucson and Pima County have teamed up with Hownd, a Tempe based foot-traffic phone application company, to help local businesses recover from the shutdown by kickstarting sales while offering customers fantastic deals. 

The best part? It’s free for local businesses to sign up as a part of the Shop Our Local Deals initiative. Both municipalities donated a total of $40,000 toward local businesses’ user fees associated with the app to help local business owners easily switch over to online sales as the pandemic continues.

The MyHownd app is designed to generate foot traffic for partnering businesses by offering deals to the public for pre-purchase, much like Groupon. City of Tucson Economic Initiatives Director Barbra Coffee said she considers working with the app company another way the city is trying to assist small business owners during these unprecedented times. 

“We’re looking for ways to help small businesses drive customers and revenues back to their businesses,” Coffee said. “It’s part of our response to COVID-19 and assisting them as they navigate the impacts of the pandemic. It’s an opportunity where we could help subsidize the cost for participation and make it available for all of our businesses.”

To sign up, all a business needs to do is download the MyHownd app, register as a business, and list their discounts. As people purchase vouchers for discounts given, the money goes straight to the business. Customers are able to use the voucher at a later date or immediately if the business is allowing in-store service. 

Coffee said she is happy to help local businesses needing to pivot to a digital platform while many Tucsonans are choosing to shop online and order carryout food on account of coronavirus fears. 

“We thought about how we could help businesses who might need a little more exposure during this time, especially as people are shopping from home, getting to-orders slowly and venturing out while being cautious,” Coffee said. “We felt working with a digital platform like Hownd would help us better help businesses.”

MyHownd is offering deals like a $50 voucher at Fourth Avenue’s Pop-Cycle for just $40, 20 percent off your first round of drinks at The Royal Room on Sixth Avenue or buy a $100 gift certificate from Brodie’s Tavern and they’ll throw in an extra $25. 

Brushfire BBQ and Creamery Owner Peter Wagle signed two weeks ago and is already seeing results, he said. Wagle likes how user-friendly the app is for the customer and his employees when redeeming a voucher. 

“It’s super easy,” Wagle said. “All people have to do is have the app on their phone and show it to us and we give them a discount.” 

Wagle believes the Shop Our Local Deals initiative is “really helping out the community right now” by allowing businesses to get a better online presence at no cost, he said. The restaurateur said he is pleased the city and county are covering MyHownd’s fees for local businesses for the time being.  

“There is no doubt this is helping out the community right now,” Wagle said. “My understanding is the city is helping out quite a bit to try and kickstart restaurants and other businesses and that is just awesome.”

The free initiative is temporary and will need to be renewed by the participating business to continue once the city and county’s $40,000 kickstart runs dry. Vice President of Marketing Larry Fleischman said he expects the money to last a 12-month period (hopefully). He currently has 35 businesses signed up in the Tucson/Pima County Area and expects to have another 25 signed up by the end of the month. 

“We expect the fees to last about a year but this program will end when the money runs out, unless it’s renewed,” Fleischman said. “A merchant certainly has the option to continue on with Hownd after the funds are depleted. We’ll give (businesses) plenty of notice when we anticipate these funds are going to run out.” 


For more information on signing up for the Shop Our Local Deals Initiative, check out