Kathy Duley, partner in Duley-Jones Gallery in downtown Scottsdale and vice president of the Scottsdale Gallery Association, switched banks in hope of generating a few advertising bucks for the arts district.
Another 15 nearby merchants also have signed on, said Doug White, president of Sunrise Bank of Arizona.
White, who devised a rewards program for the shops and eateries in the city's center, said if all of them switch their credit-card processing services to Sunrise, they could get paid back as much as $50,000 to promote the area.
That's based on the $290 million in credit-card revenue generated last year in Scottsdale's downtown retail core, White said.
But getting a bunch of independent shop owners to follow the crowd won't be an easy task, Duley said.
She should know. Duley was on the massive board of directors for a taxing district that tried and failed to come up with money and a marketing plan for downtown.
The decision-makers never could reach consensus on just about anything, and the taxing district was eventually scrapped.
White said he has been meeting with the different retail clusters making up downtown and discovered they are far from a cohesive group, so he altered his plan to allow each of the four distinct areas of downtown to control the marketing money generated within their boundaries.
The galleries were first to hop on the bandwagon, White said, so he's hoping they will model the program for other downtown merchants.
Duley agreed gallery owners are pretty much in tune with each other regarding marketing focus, but said it still will take time to generate enough momentum for them to make changes - and serious advertising money.
"Some said they'd look into it," she said. "It's a wonderful idea, but it will take time to build."
Duley said it was an easy decision for her to switch to Sunrise because the contract with her previous bank was expiring and she was dissatisfied with its service.
For others, change won't be so easy, she said.
White said Sunrise is trying to make it easier for the merchants by offering to buy out contracts and reprogram equipment. The bank has even arranged for the merchants to get a 3 percent discount on office supplies from Sunrise's own supplier.
For the local bank, it's worth the upfront expense and effort to win new customers, White said.
"It's hard for community banks to compete with the big banks," he said.