With the economy still in a slump, the City of Union City is launching a program it hopes will help reinvigorate local business.
Next week, the city will unveil Shop Local Union City — a partnership with the Union City Chamber of Commerce and Rainbow Rewards that provides businesses with free marketing and an opt-in loyalty rewards program.
Business owners and community members are invited to a kick-off event that will be held Thursday, Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Crowne Plaza Hotel. The informational event will feature participating vendors, food, raffle prizes and more.
Shop Local will help Union City businesses, especially “mom and pop” shops, by offering a rewards program for local consumers while giving businesses wider exposure via social media promotions and direct marketing campaigns, said Economic Development Coordinator Christine Friday.
“We really want to encourage the local workforce to have lunch here and shop in the city they work in,” Friday said.
According to Friday, Union City has a workforce of 22,000 people who come into town daily and about 200 local retail merchants.
“You can do almost all of your shopping here in Union City,” added Union City’s Marketing and Communications Manager Rhea Serran. “What it does is increases the city’s tax base, which funds community programs, our police force, our parks and recreation services, and just the general quality of life here in Union City.”
Among the benefits for businesses that enroll in the free Shop Local Union City program is visibility on its recently launched website, www.ShopLocalUnionCity.com. The website will allow users to search local businesses, see special offers, view maps and more. Local businesses will also get exposure on the Shop Local Facebook and Twitter pages.
The city also plans to hold weekly “cash mobs” in which the public will be encouraged to shop at a participating business on a designated day or week.
A citywide restaurant and retail guide is also in the works, officials said.
“What we saw lacking within Union City is that we have several retail centers but we don’t have brochures for them,” Serran said.
Community events centered around the campaign, including holiday events at Union Landing next year, and a mobile app are also being planned, city staff said.
In addition to the free advertising and marketing, businesses can enroll in a cash-back loyalty rewards program to give back to customers and potentially increase their sales.
“A loyalty consumer will spend 30 percent more than a non-loyalty consumer,” said Christine Ball, regional business development manager for Rainbow Rewards, a marketing solutions company that hosts similar programs across the country.
Businesses set up a customized offer through Shop Local, determining a cash-back percentage that works best for them, Ball said.
Residents can register for the Shop Local program for free with any credit card and receive cash back just by shopping at participating stores, Ball said.
“Everybody who participates wins,” Ball said.
Businesses are already starting to sign up for the program and the city is working to get larger big box chains enrolled as well, staff said.
Ultimately, officials hope the Shop Local program will provide another incentive for retailers to do business in Union City.
“We want to make sure businesses stay here in Union City and continue to be part of our city,” Serran said.
For more information about the program, visit www.ShopLocalUnionCity.com.