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Hounds Makin' it Happen

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Proposed: We Hounds should, when we can, be leaders in promoting all outlets which provide us with great food.

Case in Point: A hard working young couple has opened a fresh seafood market in my town (pop: 20K) 200 miles from the Gulf and they are striving to make it work.

Request: What do you think we local Hounds might do to gin up business for them? What have you seen work?

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  1. 1) Patronize the place.
    2) Talk it up to all your friends.
    3) Use Chowhound, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, email (your SM of choice) to spread the word.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tcamp

      Although I'm bad about doing it, I honestly believe that posting about it on yelp, Trip Advisor, etc. makes more of a difference. Look at the numbers. I think CHs don't make a big numbers difference. WE come here for recs but most people don't. Rarely do I come across anyone who's ever heard of us.

    2. Find out what sort of budget they have for marketing and/or charity functions or donations, then recommend them to schools, fundraisers, etc. (with their permission). Do they have gift cards? Do most of your Christmas shopping there.

      1. I'm all for local business over large corporate places. I mean they live where you do. For the same reason, I avoid chain restaurants.

        6 Replies
        1. re: treb

          Yup, agreed. Hence this Post. I want this couple to survive, and thrive, but though I shop there every week, I am worried. Meanwhile, The Big Chain Grocer nearby has a line at the seafood counter.

          Thanks all for thoughts so far. More?

          1. re: dickgrub

            Does Big Chain sell the same product? While I certainly support the local Mom'n'Pop place when I can, they have to offer something more than just "we're not a chain".

            I hope they are offering fresher, higher quality products than the Big Chain - OR keeping the prices competitive if it's of similar quality. I'll pay more for the Mom'n'Pop place when reasonable (like local fresh tomatoes at the Farmer's Market - but when same stand is selling, say, red peppers that they obviously bought at Big Chain, I'm not going to give them twice the price.)

            1. re: NonnieMuss

              Agreed completely. My first impulse is always to support the locals, but they must at least be competitive with the chains. Fortunately, in my neck of the woods, most of them are.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                Agreed. And I think customer service and employee training is paramount. I tried very hard to support a local coffee shop but when the owners decided to hire lower wage teens and dropped the training I finally gave up and ended up at Starbucks or DD. Surly teens who barely grunt at you, service stations not routinely stocked and cleaned will drive me to a chain everytime.

                1. re: foodieX2

                  Agree right back at you. We have an excellent local butcher who I patronize as much as I can - the staff is friendly and knowledgable, will give you cooking tips or explain how to trim. It's a pleasure to give them my business even though it's a little pricier.

                  Another suggestion that my butcher reminded me of - surely there's some sort of small business community in your town? Our butcher carries all sorts of local products - honey, jams, jellies, cheese, spreads, etc. - things that don't compete with their own stuff - and the retail outlets for those other products reciprocate in kind. Could they partner with other small local places or with the local Farmer's Market?

                  1. re: foodieX2

                    Yes, I've experienced something similar. Customer service costs very little, and as such, it is one area where the locals can whip the chains. If the locals fail in this mission, it tells me they don't care enough to justify my patronage, or to succeed.

          2. A specialist independent food business is always going to be at a disadvantage to the corporate power of the supermarket. The supermarket has the benefit that customers are already going there to buy other things

            To survive they have to find a niche market. That may that they can sell their products cheaper, or simply be able to offer a friendly smiling service, or be happy to take special orders for items not regularly stocked.

            We have a fishmonger in a nearby suburb. I'm afraid I'm not a regular customer but my sister in law is. She is now on the guy's list of "special customers" - means that when he gets particular fish, or seafood into stock, he will phone her to let her know. To my mind that's the sort of service you watn from a local specialist.

            1. Post about them on your local CH Board.

              1. Has anyone written about them or interviewed them? Interviewed their customers like you? Local news piece, Edible Publication for the area or other food magazine, radio, local tv? Where do most people in your area get their food scene info from? Have they had a 'grand opening' and encouraged the public to visit them? Do they have a flyer? A website to market their shop? Have they invited chefs, caterers to their market? Do they cater?

                Just a few random thoughts in no particular order.

                10 Replies
                1. re: HillJ

                  OT but...I love our "Edible Reno-Tahoe" magazine. Always finding out about a local source for all manner of things.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Edible Jersey was my introduction but the EPublications are outstanding FREE resources for consumers and food lovers.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Edible also runs podcasts which is another recommendation on topic-if these folks supply local chefs they could get a podcast interview and piggbank on that strategy.

                      Works for so many folks doing what they do!

                      1. re: HillJ

                        LOL...piggybank...when I meant piggyback...see I was thinking good thoughts of BIG money for this shop owner! Ha!

                    2. re: HillJ

                      Picking up on the "grand opening" idea, do they supply any local restaurants? Could the chef(s) be invited to do a cookery demonstration - or something with freebies for those attending?

                      1. re: Harters

                        Actually, Harters, it was you'all who shot me the Grand Opening and the Local Chefs.

                        Good marketing thinking...thanks.

                      2. re: HillJ

                        Excellent, HJ; now we cookin'!

                        Local newspaper did a story, but light readership = NBD. But getting in with local chefs (which would be a source of wholesale biz for them) leading to a Grand Opening w/ chefs' participation...Yeah! And don't know of foodie publications; we're in the Texas Hill Country, 60 miles from San Antonio, but will look into it. Thaaaaaaaaaaaanks!

                        1. re: dickgrub

                          http://ediblesanantonio.com/

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Oh Man, now we sailin'!

                            Hounds to the rescue.

                            Ideas just foamin'. Great! Podcasts/edibleSA/ co-op w/ other local vendors....

                            Thanks, folks.

                            Will carry into action.

                          2. re: dickgrub

                            My pleasure. I've seen some basic old fashioned marketing roll into some pretty amazing results over the years. I'm very loyal to the local fishmonger and there are two things he does really well. He makes full use of immediate Boro contacts in his town of business and he participates in local town events. He also makes good use of word of mouth foot traffic. He loves people and he loves teaching folks about fish. His fish platters are legend in the town.

                            Even after a major fire took down his place entirely the locals helped him rebuild in record time and even submitted historical photos taken from original owners that hang on the walls. Local loyalty is gold.

                        2. Hi Dickgrub; Did you post anything about Wahoo's on the Texas site? I didn't see the article in the newspaper....Daily TImes, I guess or one of the other ones? How long ago... I'm asking because I have written the occasional article for the Times and wonder if another one could be done. There are some good suggestions here and I'd like to see those
                          folks succeed. Local businesses vs. large grocery chains need all the help they can get. I understand folks wanting
                          more product that Wahoo's can carry, but when I can I get
                          my fish from them, as I know it's always FRESH!!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: amazinc

                            Thanks for your post, AZ. Not sure what you mean by "the Texas site". Yes, the article was in the Daily Times, maybe six months ago. Scott has a copy posted on the shop wall. No reason why you couldn't convince the editor to run another story; the key would be your inventiveness in cooking up a unique angle, they having already run the "New store opens in Kerrville" story. Is that produce guy next door any good? I've never been inside it. Saw it when I moved to K two years ago, but the exterior didn't charm me.

                            1. re: dickgrub

                              I think they should interview YOU along with a handful of loyal and happy customers!

                              1. re: dickgrub

                                "The Texas Site", there is a General Topics board among other things, which is the one we are on. There is also a Texas Board, very simple, please post it.

                            2. Can they afford to do a direct mailing with a discount coupon? Most of them won't be used, but if the few who do are happy, they will tell other people, who will have seen the coupon and wished they didn't trash it, but at least the name will be in their head.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                Thanks for the post, KMM.

                                You are right on. And timely. Spoke w/ Mr. Fish yesdiddy, and suggested he replace the business card he hands out at his kids' school gatherings, etc, with a time-sensitive discount coupon; and he was bemoaning very low response rate of his newspaper discount ads...But it never occurred to me to recommend direct mail! (Sound effect of Dickgrub hitting side of skull with heel of hand.) Duhh.

                                1. re: dickgrub

                                  FWIW, there are free advertising opportunities too. Some discount vendors can get pricey for the return. But if your fishmonger belongs to a box club (like Costco) they should look into business advertising and coverage offered to business members in the national Costco magazine.

                                  Whoever they bank with might offer business accounts the opportunity to appear in their community inserts and set up a display in the bank.

                                  Whoever they pay a utility bill to might also have the same consumer flyer/business account PR dept.

                                  In NJ, all of these media outlets are free to business partners and accounts. Having others endorse your business is very valuable and FREE advertising.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    Hound Report:

                                    I am amazed and pleased at the generosity of your replies; just two min ago, I joined Yelp and posted there (see Wahoo's Seafood/Kerrville, TX) per recc. of c oliver, who was First Poster a day ago; every post has pushed this forward and added to my ability to help this store. HJ's post today offers great stuff, new to me. Thanks all!

                                    1. re: dickgrub

                                      One last recommendation for down the line when time and expanded staff occurs...

                                      Visit centers and associations & talk to the people (senior centers, retired teacher assoc meetings, board of ed meetings). I can vouch for the personal touch! Owners who take the time to teach, speak passionately and personally invite customers to their shop are becoming a RARE thing these days. But it works really well for specialty food owners.

                                      When I was younger I ran a breakfast in bed service. Weekend orders, weekend deliveries. The snow ball effect that service took propelled me in directions I couldn't have dreamed. Personal touch is harder but the rewards are significant.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Any Hounds have expertise/experience w/ demographics? I'm curious as to how that discipline can be applied in a local, financially constricted fashion for Mister Fishmonger. I have postulated (to Mr F) that the challenge of "how to reach my customers" is INSIDE of a larger issue, which is, Are there more than twelve people in this tiny backwater town who COULD be my customer? He chose this town in a kind of hunch-y way, and maybe he was right. But this ain't the place to open a restaurant specializing in Esaan cuisine, if ya git mah drift, and I think you do. He saw "retirees/people from other places"; I see "pot roast and potatoes $3.99". i.e. if sea-foodies aren't here in appreciable numbers, why flail away w/ marketing? Cut yer losses. Move on. Or perhaps become Discount Seafood. Hence the query about (inexpensive) demographics. PS: proprietor is an exceptionally personable guy, so the "personal approach" suggestion of HJ would fit perfectly...if he didn't have to run the store now. As HJ acknowledged.

                                        1. re: dickgrub

                                          Valid points and insight,there!

                                          What kind of competition exists? What are the competitors doing to drum up biz and loyalty? I don't mean big grocery I mean small biz owners by comparison.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            Hmmm, HJ, don't immediately see the relevance to demogs, but out of my (considerable) respect for the quality of your contributions thus far, I will try to respond. There are virtually NO in-market competitors; by which I don't refer only to other fresh fish stores, but to the entire spectrum of proprietor-run, quality goods stores, food, apparel, gift, whatever. If you and I were driving this market to assess for a possible Williams-Sonoma store, or Harry and David outlet, or Dean & Deluca unit, I imagine we would look at all the auto parts stores, the second hand stores, the chain burger places, the Dollar stores, Big Lots, C-grade restaurants, Wally-world, but no Target, the taxidermy places, the all-you-can-eat buffets, and we'd say, "This ain't Kansas, Toto, this is downmarket...'scuse me Sir, which way to Dallas?" Warning: I'm damn proud of my opinion, but it is after all, only opinion. If your question goes to All Retail, I'd say, almost no marketing/promotion takes place here, and what is done consists of turning the Closed sign around to Open.

                                            1. re: dickgrub

                                              Yes to part B of your fun reply.
                                              I've given you 'my best' rec's up to this point
                                              I tip my hat to you for caring & action!
                                              Good luck to the fishmonger!