Bangor Savings Bank has acquired Buoy Local, the nearly three-year-old Portland startup that built a business around selling buy-local gift cards.

The businesses were scheduled to announce the deal at an event Thursday afternoon at Rising Tide Brewing Co. in Portland. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Founded in November 2013 by Sean Sullivan and Kai Smith, Buoy Local got its start in Portland offering a gift card to be used at local retailers like Coffee by Design and Longfellow Books. The company expanded to Bangor in November 2015.

Currently, Buoy Local has more than 100 businesses in Portland and Bangor that accept the gift card. Businesses pay a one-time fee and annual dues to join the Buoy Local network.

To date, customers have spent more than $185,000 at local retailers with Buoy Local gift cards, according to the company.

Buoy Local has worked with Bangor Savings Bank since 2014 when it approached the bank about providing card-processing services. The relationship expanded in August 2015 when the two companies entered into a marketing partnership that paved the way for Buoy Local to expand its gift-card program to the Bangor area.

“Bangor Savings Bank has had a significant role in the success and growth of Buoy Local, and Kai and I are excited for the future of the business and the positive impact it will have on more communities throughout Maine,” said Sullivan, who’s also executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild.

Bangor Savings Bank is acquiring Buoy Local because it aligns with its goal of supporting local businesses.

Sean Sullivan, left, and Kai Smith founded Buoy Local in 2013 to give local retailers in Portland a boost.
Sean Sullivan, left, and Kai Smith founded Buoy Local in 2013 to give local retailers in Portland a boost.

“We believe that Buoy Local fits perfectly with our brand and our support of Maine’s small business customers,” Bob Montgomery-Rice, Bangor Savings’ president and CEO, said in a statement. “We care about Maine’s communities and local merchants, and we know that promoting the notion of shopping locally is important in helping Maine’s small businesses thrive.”

The acquisition will have no impact on Buoy Local’s customers, and all existing gift cards with a balance will still be accepted at all retail partners.

Sullivan and Smith will stay engaged with Buoy Local as consultants through the transition period.

Sullivan and Smith first met at the first Startup Weekend in Portland in March 2013. They didn’t work on the business during the weekend entrepreneurial event, but later got together to launch their gift-card company. They initially raised $4,560 on IndieGoGo (below is their initial pitch video) to cover startup costs.

No word yet on Bangor Savings Bank’s long-range plans for the buy-local gift card program.