Heard you can get 25% off all supplements at Fountain of Youth?
A free in-home consultation from Making Faces by Debbie? Two free children’s classes at Dynamic Martial Arts? A $20 blowout at Roots Salon?
Probably not. Then again, OurTownCrier.com — the website offering these exclusive deals — has been live for only a day or 2.
The site — linking local small businesses with Westporters seeking promotions and bargains — is the brainchild of Betsy Pollak. A former small businesswoman herself — she owned Sundries Gifts and Homewares in Sconset Square for 5 years, and Westport Gift below Sally’s Place for 7 — she’s closely attuned to the challenges faced by stores not named Gap or Banana Republic.
“Small business owners are overwhelmed,” she says. “They’re trying to make it in a tough economy, and because they’ve had to lay off staff, they’re having to do it all themselves.”
Spending all their time on basic functions, they can’t think about things like promotions and websites. So Betsy does it for them.
She advises them how to grow their businesses; takes photos; then gives them an internet presence at minimal cost. Some — like Great Cakes and Sally’s Place — have never been in cyberspace before.
What they get — and users see — is a clean, easy-to-navigate site, with sections including “Browse by Business Type,” “Featured Promotions,” “Business Spotlight” (Wild Pear and Max’s Art Supplies are in the current rotation), and “Upcoming Events” (like “Basics of Barbeque Cooking” at Bobby Q’s).
“I feel useful,” Betsy says. “As a small business owner I felt run down. Now I’m rejuvenated.”
Valentine’s Day offers a great opportunity for local promotions. Traffic on OurTownCrier.com will build by word of mouth, but for now even a few additional customers are important to local businesses, Betsy says.
“The cost of business anywhere in town — let alone Main Street — is out of control,” she notes. “You spend $1,000 a month in electric bills alone.
“But we need each other. Westporters want a town without chain stores everywhere. And small business want appreciative customers.”
In very old days, town criers gave citizens the news. In the mid-20th century, the Town Crier was Westport’s local newspaper. Today we get news of promotions and bargains — and businesses reach customers — with OurTownCrier.com.
Westport is still a small town after all.