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BY COLIN MIXSON
Downtown’s business booster is offering $10,000 to bring one local mom-and-pop shop into the 21st century, and is currently seeking applications from Lower Manhattan merchants.
“Digital innovations are key in the changing retail landscape, which is why we created this grant as a way to empower our stores to grow their businesses,” said Jessica Lappin, president of the Downtown Alliance.
The Downtown Alliance put together its five-figure grant in response to a 2017 retail report published by a Boston-based software company, TimeTrade, which found that today’s shoppers prefer businesses with both a strong retail and online presence, according to Alliance spokeswoman Elizabeth Lutz.
TimeTrade’s report found that, while three out of every four shoppers still favor spending cash in a brick-and-mortar store rather than online, a whopping 90-percent of buyers head to the web first to research products before trekking to a store and reaching into their wallets, Lutz said.
Helping established storefront retailers establish a robust online presence as well can help them succeed by drawing in new customers.
To score the grant, brick-and-mortar business owners will have to pitch a “compelling vision” outlining how they would turn the Alliance’s $10 grand into a digital money maker, according to the online application, available at www.downtownny.com/digitalgrant.
The application goes on to suggest several ideas, including search engine optimization, social media optimization, digital marketing, and e-commerce, or the ability to sell merchandise online.
Applications are due by 11:59 pm March 20.
And whichever lucky shopkeeper nabs the grant should practice their smile, because the one hitch is that the winner must appear in Alliance marketing materials and at two press conferences as a condition of receiving the grant.