Local businesses can help each other by offering shoppers a dollar off when they patronize another local business.
That was a plan presented by Township Manager Kevin Esposito at a special council meeting Monday night.
Esposito has pitched selling “Belleville Bucs” to local merchants, who would hand out the coupons to their customers. It’s a cross-promotion for local businesses where a shopper at a Belleville business receives a $1 coupon for any purchase at a second local business.
Business owners are invited to visit Town Hall to register for free on April 19 to purchase as many of the “Bucs” as they wish, Esposito said.
The discount “dollars” will have the Belleville Buccaneers school sports logo on them. “This will promote pride in our schools,” Esposito said. The idea is to entice existing customers from one business to try another merchant in town.
“This will assist businesses in gaining new customers,” he said.
For example, he said, a restaurant could give a “Buc” to someone to use at a car wash or clothing store.
The goal is to get up to 200 business to buy up to $5,000 “Bucs” each, which would attain the goal of spreading $1 million discount coupons into circulation.
Esposito also plans a seminar called, “The Secrets of My Success,” where successful business owners will share with Belleville business owners strategies that those successful businesses have employed. The Belleville-only event will be funded through corporate sponsors. No date for that event has yet been finalized, Esposito said.
Esposito plans to ask the Belleville owners of Flowerama, the Motorcycle Mall, Nanina’s in the Park and State Fair to speak at the “Success” event.
Jaye Tarantino has owned Flowerama on Washington Avenue for 14 years, and the business has operated in Belleville since 1968. She called the suggested economic stimulus plan “an excellent idea, very creative.”
“I’m all for positive ideas that bring more traffic into the business district,” Tarantino said. “This is a good way to do it. I’m going to participate. I like this way of thinking. Anything that shines a light and helps keep the businesses here is welcome.”
She said that she doesn’t want to move or shutter her business, but with so much one-stop shopping in town, her business is running “on a shoestring.”
“We want to jump start or businesses, and we hope to together we can grow and prosper,” Esposito said.
Placing some of the discount “Bucs” to places the Senior Citizens Center to be make them more accessible for everyone is another possibility, he said.
The idea came to Esposito when he was having dinner at a local restaurant, and the owner talked about how difficult the economy had become on business.
“This is a local, state and even a global problem,” he said.