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And Now for the Good News: Communities Band Together to Save Local Shops



Ready for another Groupon horror story?

Amy Kunkle owns Food for All Market, a specialty grocer in Philadelphia that sells food items for the very allergic. As you can imagine, it’s not the biggest store in town, it has a small, but loyal client base and up until recently, made enough to pay the bills.

Then Groupon called and convinced Ms. Kunkle that she could increase her business by offering a $15 for $30 worth of merchandise coupon. Of that amount, she would get $7.50, Groupon would get $7.50 and she’d eat the rest in the name of marketing.

What wasn’t agreed upon was a cap. Groupon sold 450 coupons and Food for All Market went belly up. In an interview with a local newspaper, Ms. Kunkle estimates that she lost nearly $10,000 on the deal.

But remember, I said this was good news – because the store’ customers came to her rescue when they read about her plight. She was offered low-interest loans and free labor. With everyone’s help, Food for All Market will reopen for business in February.

Over in Chagrin Fall, Ohio, a similar story unfolded; a show of support for a local hardware store that had been in business since 1857.

This time, it wasn’t a bad business decision that caused the problem. It was simply the economy, coupled with construction and the rise of the big box store. Jim Black didn’t want to see the family-run business go under, so he sent out an email challenging his friends to spend $20 in the shop one Saturday and it snowballed from there.

On the 21st, a “cash mob” showed up at the hardware store and the register didn’t stop ringing until long after closing. No final total was announced, but for the owners of the store, it wasn’t just about the money. They were blown away by the community response and I imagine the shoppers were equally excited by what they accomplished.

In these two cases, the internet giveth and the internet taketh away. One small business nearly destroyed by the daily deal phenomena, another saved by a simple, shareable email.

Come on marketers, how about spreading some of your genius around? Instead of promoting your own company this week, why not offer a hand to another small business. Help someone set up a Facebook page, come up with a great gimmick or organize your own “cash mob” day. I can’t promise you that your good works will come back to you two-fold, but I like to think they will.