City Manager Spotlight - Jeremiah Prevatt
In this blog post we are focusing the spotlight on Jeremiah Prevatt, owner of ShopLocalProject.com and a City Manager located in Decatur, Alabama. He joined ShopCity in November of 2010 and we asked him about his experience so far. This is what he said.
Q: How did you first hear about ShopCity?
A: Some people would call it luck. The hopeless romantic in me calls it fate. I was in the beginning stages of putting together a Shop Local campaign when someone told me that Madison, AL, a neighboring community, had already started one. I hurried to a computer to search for evidence of this campaign. When I searched for "Shop Madison", I found www.shopmadison.com , which is a ShopCity.com site setup for Madison, WI. I fell in love and the rest is history...
Q: What Cities do you operate and when did you start?
A: We currently operate campaigns in Decatur and Hartselle, Alabama, ShopDecaturFirst.com & ShopHartselleFirst.com. We signed our City Manager Agreement in November of 2010.
Q: What attracted you to ShopCity and/or the Shop Local concept?
A: My interest in a Shop Local concept initially came from the realization that most small businesses in my community had almost no presence online. I am notorious for over-researching a product before I purchase it, which was nearly impossible for me to do with local merchants. I was also very concerned with the number of businesses that were closing their doors. I was attracted to ShopCity because it literally answered every one of my "But How do We...?" questions.
Q: How did you first reach out to businesses in the community?
A: When we secured our first organizational partnership, with their help, we approached all the members of the organization via email, phone and iPhone blitz.
Q: Did you use any special techniques to attract businesses or consumers to your ShopCity site?
A: What has worked the best so far is to pull out 1 or 2 functions of the site that best relate to each business or consumer. With consumers, I focused on the ability to access coupons and menus from their phone. With businesses, it varied a lot. We'd research the web presence of each business and find the missing (or broken) link and start there.
Q: How did the community respond to your Shop Local message?
A: It's been very optimistic so far. People love the idea. Most people subconsciously avoid change. Shopping Locally will require them to change. You have to be creative and consistent.
Q: Were there any surprises along the way as you built your Shop Local program?
A: YES!! The main surprise I've received was in assuming certain people or organizations would feel as passionately about supporting our community as I was. Don't assume. I'll just leave it at that.
Q: What do you like most about the ShopCity.com Community Commerce Platform?
A: That's a loaded question but generally speaking, its versatility. The merchants who are successfully using the platform are a very diverse group of businesses, but because of the versatility of the platform, each business can gain something from it. The support and patience of the ShopCity.com team is unparalleled. -I'm not getting paid to say that. :)
Q: How have businesses responded to your efforts?
A: They all love the Shop Local initiative but not all of them are comfortable with getting involved with the site. Most, if not all, of this apprehension comes from the "it's too good to be true" feeling they get when I am talking to them about it. They've been sold one too many things that were supposed to help their business. Patience is key with this group of businesses.
Q: What advice would you give to prospective City Managers?
A: Find the needs of small businesses in YOUR community. Genuinely care about their well-being and not just about furthering the campaign. Be patient. Be real. Be an example. Without business participation, your campaign probably has no future. If you win their support, they'll be the largest asset you have in educating consumers and driving traffic to the site.
Thanks for the insights Jeremiah. Best of luck as you continue to grow your ShopCity sites and continue to spread the Shop Local message.