Businesses help each other

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David Minton/DRC
The Garden Gate at 121 N. Elm St on the Square, Wednesday, August 14, 2013, in Denton, TX.
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A few times a month, a small group of local business owners meet in an informal setting to discuss potential promotions that all the businesses can participate in.

While the business owners are all part of the Denton Main Street Association, a few decided to cooperate not just for large events on the Square, but throughout the year to increase overall traffic and promote local shopping — even if it isn’t at their business.

“I think this is an add-on, where we’re drilling down a little deeper, getting a little more specific about some programs that are cost-effective when we all use our social networking,” said Claire Amano, owner of Serendipity on the Square.

She and other downtown business owners started getting serious about unifying for events and promotions about six months ago with the idea that keeping neighboring businesses strong and presenting a united front will help produce more foot traffic in the downtown business district.

“What we want is more people everywhere,” said Suzanne Johnson of the Chestnut Tree. “I’ve had Karen [Wilson of Courthouse Collection] walk people into the restaurant multiple times to show them where to eat. These are all really good reasons to get along with your neighbors because they’re the cheapest advertising you have.”

New boutiques like Serendipity, as well as older businesses like Golden Gate and Courthouse Collection, have joined with area restaurants and other retailers to drive retail traffic downtown.

Last month, more than 40 businesses banded together for a Customer Appreciation Month, with several offering promotions and putting together three large gift baskets for shoppers to win.

For August, the group has decided to host “20 on the 20th,” where businesses can incorporate “20” in a promotion that day, such as $20 items or offering 20 percent off. While some businesses, like Amyx Fine Jewelry, have not decided on their promotions, there is always next month, said Amyx owner Lora Amyx-Gorman.

“We try to come up with ideas, and it’s like one idea just by the nature of it may benefit shops like [Serendipity] more, so we try as a group to come up with something that will benefit restaurants and others for next time,” she said. “We want to try to change it up so if something doesn’t work for one person one time, another time it will.”

With social media and word of mouth, letting customers know about these promotions and encouraging businesses to participate has become easier than ever, the business owners said. One person can design an ad to post on a Facebook page, at no cost to the organizer or participating business.

“I think one thing that’s making this easier now is social media,” said Julie Glover, Denton economic development program administrator who works with the businesses. “Since there’s no real advertising cost and no printing cost, it makes it a lot more financially feasible for small businesses to do something like this.”

Also, remembering to cross promote, and reminding customers that there are more businesses on the Square helps strengthen the area, even if the customer goes to a similar business down the street.

This has spurred more businesses to not only want to participate in the promotions but also the legwork behind it, said Amano.

“Now I’m starting to see that our group is starting to get bigger,” she said. “We’re getting a trickle in at almost every meeting, which is awesome because as long as it’s still of working size, that’s more people to then feather out and help with everything, and I think that’s awesome.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.


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