Small Business Saturday is the time of year where holiday shoppers are urged to forego Black Friday and Cyber Monday to shop locally to help support small businesses. Two years ago, I took this concept to Delano. Last year, it was Buffalo. In 2011, it’s Northfield, one of my favorite Minnesota cities.
First, this post has nothing to do with the American Express Small Business Saturday promotion. I have nothing against them. To me, their promo looks less about caring for local, small businesses and more about getting people to register for a CITI card that they may not want or need.
What I did get to do was shop locally, learn more about Northfield, and view how both people and local businesses use local search portals like Google Places and social media outlets like Foursquare and others.
I arrived in downtown Northfield on Division Street and wanted to say Hello. No one responded which is fine. Every place I visited simply made me feel at home.
The first business I visited was Antiques of Northfield. From the link you may notice there isn’t much of a Google Places presence. They didn’t show up in Foursquare when I attempted to check in as well. One may think it’s probably no big deal as an average antique shopper may not often use the Internet. Today, there were plenty of shoppers inside and the average age may have been 30. There’s certainly potential.
The next place to visit was the Monkey Read book store. From the link you may notice that (as of this writing) their Google Places page has not been claimed, although there are photos listed. This is one example of not just claiming your page, but filling out every detail is a must.
In this example, Google has algorithmically associated images from their own website to their Google Places page which may not be relevant. Yours truly has been on the losing end of this.
On the lighter side, I did receive a ‘nerd alert’ once checking in on Foursquare.
So, I did leave a nice tip about this place.
I did then learn something interesting about downtown Northfield. Most of the older brick buildings were built so sturdy that it’s often hard to receive cell phone reception.
Why do I know this?
I asked the owner if there were any restaurants nearby that had wifi. He then mentioned that the HideAway Cafe two doors down had excellent wifi to the point that he actually gets wifi access through them even though he rarely gets cell phone reception.
He was right about the wifi.
Why was I at the HideAway CoffeeHouse and Wine Bar?
Each year siblings, in-laws and parents draw names for gifts. I drew my brother-in-law who lives and grew up in Iowa City, die-hard Hawkeyes territory, thus Hawkeye-related gifts. Nearby Champion Sports is a really nice place but they’re obviously going to have gear instead from the two Northfield Colleges, Carleton and St. Olaf.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy his gift in true Small Business Saturday fashion so I went to the HideAway a couple stores down, made a coffee (Powerade, actually) purchase and used their wifi to buy his gift online.
With that said, notice anything about the above HideAway and Champion Sports text links? They both go to respective unclaimed Google Places pages. Also, just like the Monkey Read store, The HideAway Google Places page algorithmically includes outdated images from their own website/blog.
Since we draw names, my gifting was now done. Off to try a beer and appetizer at J. Grundy’s Rueb ‘n’ Stein down the street. From that link you may again notice that (as of this writing) their listing is unclaimed. This place is decent, has a few reviews, so I put out a quick Foursquare tip. Sorry for the small font.
Rueb ‘n’ Stein is also the place where I heard more than one group of people talk about Small Business Saturday with hopes people come to shop in Northfield.
Strangely, Rueb ‘n’ Stein has been socially engaged on Google Picasa as early as 2004. It looks like they’ve stopped it a couple years ago and it would be neat to see them start it up again.
All of the above examples could go right to Google Places to gain additional business exposure for free. I highly encourage this for any Northfield business owner, manager or employee. For more info, check out the source itself on the Google Places blog.
In all, thank you Northfield for welcoming me into your city. I always enjoy it whether it’s for particular destinations or even if I’m just driving through. Family members will indirectly be thanking you as well when they open up their gifts.
- I did make a really small Flickr set for the day
- Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak made clever use of the #rtlocallist hashtag on Twitter
- Barb Prindle who contributes so much to Localmn graduated from Carleton College
- Northfield has a really nice Patch presence. I’m a fan of Patch
- I saw some overall social media presence from businesses, yet was surprised to not see more considering all the college students who make Northfield home
Did you have any fun Small Business Saturday experiences? If so, let us know as we’d love to hear about it.