ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A new program meant to steer new customers to St. Petersburg-based businesses is paying dividends for the business owners involved, and the program is barely a month old.

For new St. Pete business Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream, science is the easy part.

The challenge has been getting their name out to the public.

“Just promoting the fact that we are a new concept, a new ice cream concept,” said Gayle Tulman, owner of the ice cream shop.

It’s a challenge made a bit easier, though, now that they’re a part of the ‘I Love St. Pete’ merchant key tag program.

Started by Stan Arthur, creator of the ‘I Love St. Pete’ Facebook page, the program aims to get people in the doors of local businesses by offering special key tags.

“While they’re there, they buy something or they eat something or they drink something, and then from then on the merchant offers them a discount if they just flash this card,” said Arthur.

“Just by Stan announcing that we participate with the program, I have customers coming into my shop saying, ‘Oh wow, I didn’t even know you existed!’ Or ‘I didn’t even know about this new business,’” said Tulman.

Sub Zero is just one of at least 100 participating businesses so far since the program’s creation a month ago.

The Pesky Pelican Brewpub is another. They’ve already seen a 15-20 percent increase in business.

“We’re directly on the Pinellas Trail, so on the weekends we have people stopping in on their bicycles to grab the tag and grab a beer and find out what we’re all about,” said Dan Pemberton, owner of the Pesky Pelican.

What they’re all about is supporting the local economy and the community. which is the exact point of the key tag program.

“I hope they gain wonderful new clientele and relationships with people," Arthur said. "Because in business, especially in small business, you make a lot of friends, a lot of your clients become your friends. These are people that you socialize with and hang out with and people who can help you, community-wise."

So far, 1,300 key tags have been distributed in the St. Petersburg area.

For a full list of participating merchants, or to get your business involved, visit​