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Small biz, big deals: Mom and pops offer exclusive promos, free shipping via new online marketplace

BID deal: Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District president Mark Caserta showed off EMain, an online marketplace where dozens of local businesses will offer special deals and free shipping starting Sept. 20.
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It’s another reason to shop local!

Residents of Park Slope and Prospect Heights can receive free one-day shipping on certain goods from dozens of neighborhood mom-and-pop shops via a novel online marketplace starting on Sept. 20.

The expedited delivery is part of the stores’ three-month pilot program with digital-retail hub EMain.org, during which participating businesses will offer exclusive deals and fast delivery via promotions on the website, according to a Slope business booster.

“It’s another tool in the tool box,” said Mark Caserta, the president of the Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District. “And about getting more people to pay attention to what’s available at their local shops.”

Locals living in zip codes including 11215 and 11217 are eligible to receive next-day delivery on items from some 60 shops participating in the trial, some of which are part of Caserta’s so-called bid or its sister North Flatbush bid, while others are Park Slope Chamber of Commerce members. The speedy service will be provided by local post offices, which EMain founder Peter Price tapped to make deliveries for the pilot program’s duration.

Retailers’ EMain deals, which will change weekly, include a mix of services and goods that customers can browse on the website, but must contact merchants directly in order to purchase.

For instance, java shop Kos Kaffe will give a $5 gift card to EMain shoppers who buy one pound of organic coffee; Fleishers Craft Butchery customers can score a two-for-one sausage deal; and spa K Skincare is offering $5 eyebrow sculpting, according to Caserta, who said any deals are subject to change.

Those who purchase promotions for services or perishable products must go to stores to get them, but all other items will be sent via the no-cost, expedited delivery.

The program’s free fast shipping may be a boon for buyers, but EMain’s appeal to shopkeepers is its ability to drive customers to their brick-and-mortar locations while giving them a digital presence that doesn’t require maintaining an online storefront, Caserta said.

“Putting everything online is very difficult, especially when it comes to keeping it up to date,” he said.

Following the pilot, Price will review the scheme’s effectiveness in boosting local business before deciding whether to continue the EMain partnerships, which entrepreneurs would have to shell out between $50 and $100 per month to maintain, according to Caserta.

“They’re going to look at the web traffic clicks on offers and how the mechanics work with the post office, as well as talk to merchants to see what their experience is, to figuring out if everyone’s comfortable,” he said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Posted 12:00 am, September 14, 2018
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