For three Glenwood Springs businesses, surviving the recession is in the bag |

For three Glenwood Springs businesses, surviving the recession is in the bag

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” While many businesses have cut back on traditional advertising avenues, three local shops are joining forces hoping a little creative marketing will promote their separate businesses collectively.

Sweet Notes, Passion for Picnics and Arcella’s Retreat have created a bridal bag they plan to hand out to customers who are looking for anything wedding related that the three stores offer. The wedding gift bags appeal specifically to brides and will include product samples and coupons for each of the stores.

The idea being that sharing customers will increase business for all.

It’s a unique plan that may just be the key to thriving through a slow economy.

“I think, in a time like this, you hear so much negative news about businesses and the economy, but you have to move forward and come up with more creative ways to promote business,” said Passion for Picnics’ owner Heather Finley.

“I think it’s working out really well because we do complement each other and are not in competition,” she said.

Collaboration between local stores is not a new idea for Finley, who has had her store in Glenwood Meadows for nearly three years. Finley said that she often has customers who come in and may be looking for something else, and she will refer them to another Glenwood store that has what they want.

“Cook a la Carte is one I call all the time if they need some kitchen things,” Finley said. “We’ve built a friendship among the little, small-business community, and it’s been nice to support each other.”

The strategy for Finley is to develop a new way to reach new customers while investing much less money in traditional advertising. She said that she’s always done creative marketing to promote her store, like sending out e-mail news letters, donating items for silent auctions to help nonprofits and to spread the name of her business throughout the community, and she’s always advertised in the local newspaper as well.

It’s her opinion that during a recession, more advertising, not less, is crucial. And the more diverse the advertising, the better.

“You can’t put all your eggs in one basket, and it doesn’t cost very much to put these bags together,” Finley said.

This creative campaign may also be just the thing to ensure these three businesses fair well through the rest of the recession.

“We are trying to help each other get more customers with our own existing customer base. Trying to make the customers know about each other in a really low-cost, efficient way,” Finley said.

Arcella’s Retreat owner Tami Campbell said that while she used to do more traditional advertising like radio and print, she has pulled back on those avenues simply because of how expensive they are.

“I believe in those forms of advertising, but they are long-term campaigns, and we are running out of money for that,” Campbell said. “It’s all new to me, but I think it just seemed like a good fit for us.”

She said that she had to refocus her advertising efforts on a more direct and less expensive route that would have a higher rate of return. Campbell believes that narrowing their focus on brides will have a huge payoff compared to a blanketing advertising campaign.

“We target our products to our specific demographic,” she said. “It’s very targeted to brides or people who know brides, and people who we know that have a need for our products and services.”

Friends and business partners Brenda Knutson and Tonya Uren have known nothing but business during the recession.

The two Glenwood Springs residents started their business, Sweet Notes, across 14th Street from City Market in June 2008, months before the recession grasped the western slope.

“We don’t really know anything different,” Uren said. “We’ve really only existed in this market, so we have nothing to compare it to.”

One of the biggest challenges the two have experienced is how to market their niche store of stationery products, cards and wedding invitations and novelty gifts. But they’ve found that some creative marketing may be just the key to not only surviving the current economic slowdown but to prosper through it.

“Marketing is a challenge,” Knutson said. “If sales were up, I could put more out there in marketing, but they are not way up. So we have to find different, unique ways of doing that.”

Over a cup of coffee and several conversations with two other small-niche businesses, they came up with the unique idea to market their stores collectively.

“That way we are able to touch a larger group of people, because someone may go into Arcella’s but might not know that we are over here and what products we offer,” Knutson said.

But leafing through the information and the products in the wedding gift bag, potential customers will notice that Sweet Notes not only offers wedding invitations but also bridal party gifts, Champagne flutes and a host of other wedding services that the bride may not have thought about.

“That way the bride goes home with the information to look through that has all our stuff,” Knutson said. “It helps the three of us market to customers for minimal expense.”

Knutson said that she is happy to call one of the other local stores, as Finley does, if she knows that someone else carries what a customer is looking for.

“I really feel that there is a giant collaboration of support between businesses, if we know it or not,” she said. “I feel that we all want each other to succeed, but when you can’t go out and buy advertising, word of mouth is the best way to do it.”

Uren added that promoting other businesses in the community is one way that they feel will help them succeed.

“Anything you can do to support the community comes back to you,” she said.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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