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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Enticing Holiday Shoppers to Buy Local

With Black Friday signaling the start of the holiday shopping season, South Mountain-area businesses are eager to entice buyers. But attracting attention in a marketplace already ripe with deals is no easy task.

Steve Glueck, executive director/membership development for the South Mountain/Laveen Chamber of Commerce, often works with area business owners and says many are turning to social media for new opportunities.

“There’s kind of an experimentation going on in social media and evaluating where business fits, primarily because it’s free,” he said. “And, particularly in a market where we are now, the small business guy figures I have to be doing something – preferably something with impact.”

What’s helping small businesses, Glueck added, is a growing emphasis on buying local. Also, more businesses with similar customers are collaborating to create events that attract a shared audience.

For Edward and Abigail Olaya, owners of Venue at the Grove in Laveen, local support led to expanding their wedding and corporate event company by opening The Grove Café. To help market the weekend breakfast restaurant, the couple uses newspaper advertising, Facebook, and sign spinners along Baseline Road and Southern Avenue.

The biggest contributor to bringing in new customers, however, has been word of mouth.

“We’ve had people come every single day since we opened – and they’ve been telling their friends,” Edward said.

On Saturday, Dec. 17, the café – located north of Baseline Road on 27th Avenue – will host Breakfast with Santa. The event’s $6-per-person fee includes pancakes, a beverage and a photo opportunity with Santa. Half the proceeds will be donated to the Salvation Army Christmas Angel program.

Seating times for the event, which will take place in the grove area, are 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The patio will remain open for customers wanting breakfast from the regular menu. Residents interested in attending should RSVP to 602-456-0803.

In addition to the café’s early success, the Olayas’ facility for wedding and corporate events continues to attract people from around the Valley and even outside the country.

“We have someone from Japan who’s getting married and has never even seen the place,” Edward said. “They saw the pictures online and just booked from what they saw.”

At Gardener’s World on Baseline Road just east of 32nd Street, Friday, Dec. 2, marks the start of the 26th annual Poinsettia Festival. More than 10,000 spectators are expected at the nursery to enjoy self-guided tours, photo opportunities, wagon rides, food, crafts and kids activities.

The free event runs Dec. 2-4 and Dec. 9-11, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sharon Petterson, who owns Gardener’s World with her husband, Gary, said much of their marketing involves sharing information that helps people succeed when gardening and landscaping.

“We’re e-mailing to over 4,000 clients,” she added. “We send garden and landscaping tips to tell them what to do in their garden, how to take care of their landscaping, green tips, events that we have, as well as classes that we give here at the nursery.”

The educational information also gets shared in handouts and on the Gardener’s World website, which is optimized for industry-specific keywords. Additionally, referrals generate significant business, as do the company’s signs that attract people driving on Baseline Road.

Home shows offer extensive exposure, including for the Pettersons’ other company, Gardener’s Eden Landscaping.

“We’re the ones who always have more plants and unusual plants there for people to see,” Petterson said. “So they would be interested in some of the unusual things and come for the specialty plants, as well as the bread-and-butter items we carry.”

Across the street from Gardener’s World, consistent marketing has led to early success for Anytime Fitness. Since opening two years ago, Paul Heitzman, owner of the 24-hour fitness franchise, has relied on newspaper advertising and door hangers to bring in business. A vehicle wrap, as well as the marquee sign and flags on Baseline Road, create increased exposure.

Of course, with the New Year just a month away, Heitzman is looking to lure those whose resolutions include getting in better shape.

“We’re offering highly discounted training packages for personal training, as well as gift certificates,” he said. “We’re also doing waived enrollment fees for multiple memberships and three free months for people who join before Jan. 1.”

Residents looking for new retail options in the South Mountain area should keep an eye on the southwest corner of 51st Avenue and Baseline Road. According to Michael Moreines, a local developer with Terrazona, LLC, the second phase of the L.A. Fitness-anchored development will break ground in January, bringing with it a mix of local and national retailers.

Written by Tom Thrush

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