We are excited to introduce our new membership card, and hope our readers will be as enthusiastic about it as we are.
It simply says, “I’m Local,” and if you present it to participating businesses, it entitles you to discounts and special offers The Local has arranged for you, for a period of one year from the date of issue.
Some great local businesses have come onboard, with more joining us as they learn about the opportunity for them to promote their businesses and services at this time of year.
We want to explain our plan to you.
We will have a wallet-sized card waiting for readers who want to sign up, at a cost of $39.95 (plus HST).
The charge for the cards helps cover the cost of the program for us, and will also help to support your community newspaper.
There is no charge for businesses to come onboard — their cost is the discounts and special offers for you, our readers.
One of the questions we’ve been asked is whether cards are sold individually or per household. Once we announce the offers, you can decide whether you need one for each of your family members. The cards are labelled with your name. It will be up to the businesses to determine whether their offers are for an individual or household.
Our new membership program begins Nov. 7. We will have a website ready by early November that explains how to join, and also allows you to sign up online, using PayPal or a credit card.
But the really exciting part of this, to us, is the amazing support we have received from local businesses, as you can see in our ad. Karen Skeoch, who looks after advertising for The Local, developed this program and began approaching businesses early in the summer, after a discussion with editor Dave Burket of The Voice of Pelham, who offers a similar program.
The response from local businesses was instant and positive, more so than we could have anticipated.
By Nov. 1, we will publish in the paper and online the specials and discounts these businesses are offering for the first month. As a Local member, you will have so many great choices!
Businesses may change their offers monthly, or they may stay the same. That’s up to them.
Maria Mavridis, of Corks Winebar and Eatery, and Orzo, two great Queen Street restaurants, was the first business owner we approached.
She didn’t hesitate. She was in with both restaurants, and you will learn about the specials she’ll offer soon.
“I told you guys back in July it was a great idea. It will make our lives easier — it will help identify locals for us. It saves asking for ID, which puts our servers in an awkward position.”
Mavridis had helped organize a similar program for a local music festival, she says, “and it was awesome. It’s so easy to use.”
She says from a business standpoint, she likes the idea of letting locals know they are welcome and appreciated.
“It’s nice to be able to give the locals something, and we know if we offer them an incentive, they will come. It will give them a reason to come to Queen Street.”
She compares the program to the days of coupons as an incentive, but says this is much easier. “It’s a really great idea from our perspective.”
Once our membership plan was advertised, some businesses contacted us. We were delighted to hear from Chantal Suthons, who reached out to us to let us know Peller Estates, Trius and Wayne Gretzky Estates would like to be part of our program — offering more great experiences for locals.
“We all think about being local, but we tend not to visit local businesses in the summer,” she says.
“We see this as a great opportunity for locals to get acquainted with what is in their own backyards. I know I didn’t get out to other wineries this summer. We should all be supporting our local businesses — we have so much to offer in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This is a way for us to remember, involve and support our community.”
So much of what the wineries do is local, she says, supporting grape growers, providing jobs, and restaurants offering food-to-table meals. “We make sure we shop local for our supplies as often as we can.”
So there you have it — our local membership plan. It’s a cliche, we know, but we feel it’s a win-win situation, for locals who want to support their neighbourhood businesses and businesses who want to welcome locals.