True to their mission, Main Street Kent has been working hard to help the small shops in downtown Kent be successful. Last year Main Street completed a detailed survey of downtown business needs and earlier this year Main Street got a grant to bring in some small business retail experts to help fill those needs. They’ve provided assistance on merchandising, advertising, financials, store operations, and internet sales.
One of the things that surprised me from the business survey was learning that about three-quarters of downtown Kent businesses do not have an internet presence. I figured in today’s day and age just about everybody had a cyber-space home but it looks like the realities of small businesses in Kent suggests otherwise.
Small boutique shops have always been about word of mouth sales but it seems to me that doesn’t mean that the internet business model can’t help supplement walk in business. As a matter of fact, the combo-deal (internet and walk in sales) seems to offer the widest customer net possible and at least a couple of the new downtown businesses have touted the value of both channels. Now we just need to spread the word and once again that’s where Main Street is stepping up.
Main Street is approaching the interent through a couple of different ways. First off, Main Street has been in the process of revamping their web site — with the hope of being able to give the Main Street businesses another place to be seen. It’s the principle that Main Street (as a cumulative body of small businesses) can do for the little guys what the big guys would do for themselves. I’m not sure how far along in creative development the new Main Street site is but I think it will go live in 2010.
In the meantime I noticed that Main Street has been making sure businesses know about existing business advertising sites that get in front of customer eyes. A good example of that is www.salehop.com which I was told by Main Street happens to be featuring small businesses in Kent during the month of November. It’s a great way for businesses to post information about their products and to offer coupons and discounts to lure customers into their stores.
A quick check of the 44240 Area Code on the SaleHop site revealed a free pizza from Guys Pizza, a 20% off coupon from Vintage Rehab Clothing, a whooppee cushion from Off The Wagon, and a 10% off coupon from Spin More Records.
My advice is to bookmark the SaleHop site and before you shop, download some coupons, save yourself some money and suport a local Kent business all in one easy transaction.