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LETTER: Combined effort could help business

Here's a very adaptable big business idea that local downtown business in all our communities can use. For examples:

New Glasgow's downtown businesses enjoy amply free parking in the downtown area but are facing street traffic disruption from downtown paving during their upcoming busy pre-Christmas shopping season. They can use it to entice customers to park and make the brief walk to visit their stores.

Pictou's downtown businesses could use it to extend business beyond the tourist season by encouraging more local traffic to their shops. Or, now as I notice our town's busy tourist industry almost shut down for the winter, the idea could be used to target the passengers on American tour boats arriving at our wharf.

So let me get your heads around this idea.

My wife and I both love P.E.I. and have often travelled and visited the island, which has a thriving tourist industry. On an early visit, I noticed that the operators maintained racks on which they shared each other's advertising pamphlets, including those of their competitors. I thought that odd and asked one, “Aren't you worried that you're that encouraging your customers and sending them to your competitors?” and he replied, “No. They send just as many back to me. It works out well for us all.”

I also note that the merchants on Spring Garden Road in Halifax have joined together in efforts to promote business on their street.

So here's the adaptable big business idea. We regularly receive in our post office box or tucked in our newspapers small flyers from McDonalds, Sobeys, Swiss Chalet, etc. I'm sure you've seen them too. They are very effective advertising! They're attractive, colourful little pamphlets that unfold or pull apart to reveal a few pages of little ads with each promoting some special that the business is offering at some point during the upcoming time period. It's very effective advertising!

The idea is that when the time is due, the ad may be clipped out and used to obtain the promoted special deal. People read these flyers carefully, save and carry them around, and when shopping, they clip and use the little ads as coupons as they come due.

Downtown business groups in New Glasgow, Pictou, Westville, etc. can easily adapt this idea by sharing the cost to produce and distribute such a pamphlet. Each merchant would be responsible to provide content for at least one square ad promoting a special. Jointly, such a pamphlet baits more customers to visit their shopping area, check out the specials and of course, once in the shop or area, they are exposed to other merchandise available.

Ralph Ferguson

Pictou

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