MIDDLETOWN — One challenge of Middletown's new ID program will be finding ways to popularize the cards among residents.

The IDs are intended to help some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, but the program, which begins Feb. 1, will be most successful if everyone in Middletown gets on board, city leaders said at a Common Council meeting Monday.

“To maximize the success of the card, programs can be developed to offer discounts to restaurants, city park rentals and/or price reductions on seasonal passes to our summer programs and pools,” Mayor Joe DeStefano suggested.

With the program being less than a week old, it is unclear how many businesses will want to participate.

Fred Williams, owner of 6 West Barbershop, already knows he will offer 25 percent off haircuts to cardholders.

But since the other barbers at the shop work on commission, Williams said he will have to see what they are willing to offer.

Cheryl Pierce, owner of Sub Q Tattoo and Body Piercing, also said she plans to offer a percentage off her shop's services to ID holders. Like Williams, she'll have to talk to her contractors about further discounts.

Pierce said giving her customers a discount might help set her business apart from other tattoo and piercing shops in the area.

"Why would they want to go to Goshen or somewhere else when they could stay in Middletown and pay less?" Pierce said.

But not all businesses in town see the ID discounts as something that will help business, as Rich Cruet, the longtime owner of The Bicycle Doctor, explained.

Cruet said his business is not lucrative enough to give discounts, partly because he ends up giving away some of his services to people in need.

"I'm here helping out a lot of people who actually use bikes for transportation to jobs and things, and it's kind of impossible not to help them," Cruet said. "If there's somebody who has nothing and what are you going to do, nickel and dime them and charge them everything I would normally charge? You end up being a bleeding heart, basically."

Ana Gonzalez, who runs Olivia's Empanadas with her husband, said she believes ID discounts will be irresistible to customers.

She recalled when she formerly worked at JC Penney when the company decided to get rid of coupons in favor of lowering prices across the board.

Gonzalez said business slowed down so much that the store began offering coupons again.

"People love to see the discounts, even if they're paying the same," she said.

lbellamy@th-record.com