It’s no secret that digital marketing is the future. It allows businesses to reach customers for a fraction of the cost of traditional media — and in ways never imagined before.
Unfortunately the digital landscape is changing quickly and often it’s hard to keep up. The marketing mix in today’s mobile world is substantially different than it was just a year or two ago.
This is especially challenging for local business owners, who would rather focus on delighting customers rather than the latest geotargeting tech. Plus, local businesses often face a barrage of telemarketing calls from out of town, fly by night peddlers of various online services, making it hard to know who to trust.
To help sort out the options — and provide some real-world best practices that will bring your business more customers and more revenue — ARLnow.com is bringing small business digital marketing expert Stanley Gauss to town next Thursday.
Gauss and ARLnow.com owner Scott Brodbeck will be holding two free, small group discussions about the latest digital marketing options specifically for local businesses: social media, mobile, geotargeting, email blasts and everything in between. The events are free for owners and managers of Arlington-based local businesses.
If you’re unable to attend in person, you may also use the links above to register to phone in via conference call. Or, to inquire about a one-on-one discussion at your office earlier in the day, contact ARLnow’s Meghan McMahon at [email protected] or 703-348-0583.
Flora Wallace had a typical problem for a newly married woman who just moved to a new home. She had many items that she didn’t need but were still in good shape.
Wallace then heard about the Buy Nothing Project, a gift-giving economy where neighbors give away items for free, from her cousin. She decided to bring the project to her neighborhood on Columbia Pike.
“I like the idea of being able to get in touch with a neighbor and give a new home to an item I didn’t need,” Wallace said.
Wallace contacted the administrators of the national Buy Nothing Project who helped her set up the Buy Nothing Project Columbia Pike Corridor group on Facebook. The idea behind the project is to create hyperlocal groups where neighbors can post items they want to give away or post requests for items people might have — and form tighter-knit communities.
“Time and again, members of our groups find themselves spending more and more time interacting in our groups, finding new ways to give back to the community that has brought humor, entertainment, and yes, free stuff into their lives,” says the project’s website. “The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us.”
Each group is hyperlocal for areas with less than 50,000 people, meaning that only people in the specific group’s ZIP code can join. Columbia Pike residents in the 22204 ZIP code can join by requesting to Facebook group. Wallace will then contact them and ask for proof of residence before allowing the person to join, she said.
While the Buy Nothing Project helps people find new homes for their items, the project also allows people to connect with neighbors, something Wallace hopes to achieve, she said.
“The focus of the project is getting neighbors to know each other,” she said.
So far the group is small with eight members, but Wallace said she hopes it will grow as more people hear about it. Her goal is to have about 150 members in the next six months.
She has had requests from people outside of the ZIP code, and while she had to reject them, she said she hopes they start their own groups in their neighborhoods.
Wallace recommends residents of other parts of Arlington contact the national Buy Nothing Project administrators to start a new group. They can help a person start the page and go through all the rules that apply to the project, including how posts should be written, how to approve members, etc.
Wallace said she can see people creating a Buy Nothing Clarendon or Buy Nothing Courthouse, as examples. After all, the project helps people meet each other.
“By re-homing items in your community, you get to know who lives there,” she said.
Wallace posted the first item on the group — a CD tower. While no one has taken her up on the offer, she said she thinks it will happen as more people join the group.
“My goal is to find homes for items I might grow out of in the next years and definitely to meet new people,” Wallace said.
East Falls Church residents can now grab an energizing cold-pressed juice before heading off to work in the morning, following the opening of a new South Block Juice Company store at 2121 N Westmoreland Street.
The micro juicery’s factory and test kitchen had been located in the neighborhood since last summer, according to company owner Amir Mostafavi. When the cafe next door to his factory closed down, Mostafavi took the opportunity to expand.
The East Falls Church store will be able to seat 30 people inside and up to 15 outside, significantly more than either of South Block’s other locations, on 11th Street N. in Clarendon and at George Washington University. Mostafavi hopes this extra space will allow the store to expand its repertoire to include fundraisers, neighborhood events and maybe even some tours of the factory next door.
A grand opening celebration is planned for this Saturday (July 18) from 9-11 a.m. If the lure of a brand new micro juicery isn’t enough, the store will be offering free half pints of juice and $25 gift cards to the first 25 people to come out.
Although business is booming now, Mostafavi says his juices weren’t always so popular. He opened his first smoothie and health food shop at GW in 2004, when he was three years out of college, but the store just didn’t kick off the way he expected it to. It wasn’t until 2011, when Mostafavi opened his Clarendon location and bought his first cold pressed juicer, that things finally began to take off.
“I took a big risk when I changed to all cold press because no one in this area had heard of it — we tried to educate them on why it was better. It was a risk, but I really thought it was a better product,” said Mostafavi. “At first, people would say, no, I don’t want bottled juice, I want fresh juice, but we tried to educate them on why it was better and better for you. Six months later, that’s all anybody wanted.”
Mostafavi says he believes South Block has been successful partially because it is such a small company.
“I try to have things that people want, that are good for you, and I try to have it before anybody else and do it better than anybody else. I think that’s a benefit of being a smaller company — the bigger corporations catch on a little bit late, and they cut corners to cut cost, and it just isn’t the same quality product.”
In addition to their juices and smoothies, the East Falls Church store has trendy products like nitrogen-infused cold-brew coffee. Mostafavi tries to keep South Block ahead of the curve by paying attention to the products being introduced in California and New York, and then bringing those products to the D.C. area.
“I try to continue to evolve the products and the menu,” said Mostafavi. “I think that’s one thing that’s made South Block successful.”
Mostafavi says the business is still expanding, with plans for future stores in both Vienna and Georgetown.
The remaining Barre in the Park classes in Rosslyn have been rescheduled from Wednesday to Thursday evenings, starting this week.
Barre in the Park, which is in its second season, is a series of free outdoor classes offered weekly in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) by exercise studio Lava Barre, in partnership with the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.
(Barre is a type of trendy exercise class that combines elements of ballet with yoga and Pilates.)
Lava Barre is offering this free series in part to promote their new studio in Rosslyn (1528 Clarendon Blvd), which opened this summer. The Rosslyn studio replaced a Lava Barre studio previously located in Clarendon.
The series started in May and is slated to continue into the early fall. Although the classes are free, registration is required. According to Lava Barre, all registered participants need to bring is themselves, a towel or mat and some water.
Absent cancellation due to inclement weather, the remaining Barre in the Park classes will be offered Thursday evenings in Gateway Park from 6-7 p.m. Should a class be cancelled due to weather, the BID says a notification will be sent to those registered for the class via email.
Currently, classes are planned to continue from now until the end of September.
Photo courtesy Lava Barre
The library is working with an Ohio-based company called Hoopla Digital, which bills itself as a “free Netflix-like service” which users can access through their Apple TV, smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Hoopla offers a range of digital content including e-books, comics, audiobooks, music and streaming TV and movies.
The library’s current contract with Hoopla gives library patrons access to audiobooks and music, according to library spokesman Peter Golkin, who described the partnership as the next logical step in adapting to new technology, something libraries have been doing for decades.
Golkin said one particularly attractive feature of Hoopla was the elimination of waiting lists. In the past, when libraries bought audiobooks, they would have to buy several copies — and even then patrons could end up waiting a long time for more popular titles. Through Hoopla, however, one title can be checked out by an unlimited number of patrons.
The company also touts its automatic returns, which it says eliminate library late-fees. Users will be able to check out up to six items a month and listen to them as often as desired. Due to record label restrictions, the same album may only be checked out twice in a 30-day period.
Arlington Public Library began using Hoopla last Tuesday (June 16), and is the 10th library system in Virginia to do so. To start using the service, patrons can create an account through the library’s website.
County to Seek Ballston Mall Partnership — Arlington County is moving quickly to try to come up with a public-private partnership for the redevelopment of Ballston Common Mall. County Board members said Tuesday that they believe the redevelopment will bring important economic benefits. “To not reinvest is to watch the death, I think, of Ballston,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Crash Near Kenmore Middle School — A five-vehicle crash occurred around 5:30 yesterday evening on S. Carlin Springs Road, just south of Kenmore Middle School. Scanner reports suggest a driver mistook the gas pedal for the brake at an intersection, leading to the multi-vehicle wreck. [Twitter]
Playground Contracts Awarded — The Arlington County Board has voted unanimously to award two contracts, together worth about $2 million, for new playgrounds at Long Bridge Park and Tyrol Hills Park. Construction on both is expected to begin later this summer and will take about four months. [Arlington County]
Panhandlers Stake Out Turf in Arlington — There’s “an ongoing turf war” among panhandlers in Arlington County, who seek to hold certain lucrative, traffic-laden roadsides and medians. The “war” has resulted in the occasional fist fight and accusations that rival panhandlers are making up their sob stories, which often revolve around being a veteran or losing a home. [Falls Church News-Press]
Free Chips and Guac at Cal Tor Today — California Tortilla locations, including the eatery in Courthouse, are offering free chips and guacamole to customers today. A purchase is required. [California Tortilla]
Flickr pool photo by airamangel
Renderings of Proposed Ballston High-Rise — Ahead of Wednesday’s Arlington Site Plan Review Committee meeting, developers Lionstone and Penzance have released new renderings of the 22-story, 330-unit apartment tower they’re proposing to build on the Carpool site in Ballston. The tower is sleek metal and glass, with a retail pavilion on the ground floor. In a second phase, the developers are proposing to replace an aging, adjacent office building with another 22-story, 362-unit residential building. [Washington Business Journal]
Free Cone Day at Haagen-Dazs — The Haagen-Dazs store at Pentagon City mall is offering free ice cream today from 4:00-8:00 p.m. as part of the company’s nationwide Free Cone Day. [Facebook]
Coalition for Minority Affairs Honors Students — Eighty-seven African and African-American Arlington Public Schools students were honored last week by the Civic Coalition for Minority Affairs. The Northern Virginia group “endeavors to foster high academic achievement through its annual awards ceremony.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Today through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., the mall will offer free, full-service gift-wrapping, complete with a variety of wrapping paper, ribbons, and red and pink bows.
The only catch: you have to spend more than $250 at any of a handful of pricey stores. Those stores include:
- Armani Exchange
- Hugo Boss
- Kate Spade
- Michael Kors
- Stuart Weitzman
- Vince Camuto
Shoppers who want to take advantage of the service are asked to bring proof of purchase to the Guest Services kiosk.
From 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., Menchie’s at Penrose Square (2405 Columbia Pike) will be offering one free 6 oz. cup of frozen yogurt to each “fan” who walks through the door, according to a press release.
Froyo freeloaders will also be given a 20 percent off coupon for their next visit.
Menchie’s has 475 locations, including the one in Arlington.
California Tortilla in Courthouse will be offering free burritos to customers on Thursday to celebrate a transition to a new franchise owner.
The restaurant, at 2057 Wilson Blvd, has been closed for renovations and sports a new look inside. On Thursday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 to 7:30 p.m., all customers can get a free burrito and a drink. The first 20 customers in line get a “Burrito Elito” loyalty card with free burritos for a year.
California Tortilla also has locations at Reagan National Airport and in Crystal City. Those, along with all other “Cal Tor” locatons, are offering free chips and queso sauce to any customer who tells the cashier they voted. The promotion is valid today only.
The fast food chain is offering its customers either a free small hot coffee or a medium iced coffee with their meal to promote its “new specialty-grade THRIVE Farmers Coffee,” and for International Coffee Day today (Monday).
Other establishments around the area are participating in giveaways for the “holiday,” with McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts both offering free coffee today (McDonald’s is giving away a small and Dunkin Donuts a medium). Peet’s Coffee’s new Shirlington location (4115 Campbell Ave.) is also offering a buy one, get one free deal for a coffee or espresso drink.
Chick-Fil-A’s weeklong promotion goes until Saturday, Oct. 4, and is intended to raise awareness for their “farmer-direct” coffee, which is bought from farms in Central America. The company says its coffee farmers are paid directly, up to 10 times more than farmers are paid via standard trade models.
Photo via Facebook
Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop opens in Rosslyn at 11:00 a.m. today (Monday), and customers are already lining up to get free sandwiches.
The Delaware-founded and Las Vegas-based chain is opening its first location in Virginia, and to celebrate the occasion, it is offering free sandwiches to the first 100 people in line. The first 50 people in line will, according to a press release, receive certificates granting them free “Bobbies” for a year. The Bobbie is the shop’s most popular sandwich, a hoagie with roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayonnaise.
The shop, on the ground floor of 1500 Wilson Blvd, is the chain’s second in the D.C. area after opening a storefront at 1800 M Street NW earlier this year. It offers subs of 9, 12 and 20 inches.
The line started to form at 3:30 a.m., when Jackie Miller parked in front of the building and set up a reclining camping chair. She “went to bed really early, got up at 2:30 in the morning and drove here from Alexandria.” She told ARLnow.com she has never had a Capriotti’s sandwich.
“I made subs when I was younger in Buffalo,” she said. “That’s what I always look forward to when I visit my relatives, going to my old sub shop. I’ve been looking for a really good sub since I moved here.”
As of 9:45 a.m., there were enough spots left for people to walk up and earn free sandwiches, twice a month, for the next year. At 10:30 a.m., the Nationals’ president mascots will be there to greet customers. The shop will open at 11:00 a.m.
APS Identifies Elementary Schools to Possibly Expand — Arlington Public Schools named two schools that could be expanded as a “plan B” if the proposal to put a new school on the Thomas Jefferson Middle School campus doesn’t go through. If the new school cannot be constructed, APS has suggested expanding Randolph Elementary School and Barcroft Elementary School. The County Board commissioned a working group last month to look into the possibility of building a new school on the Thomas Jefferson campus. [InsideNova]
Voter Registration Deadline — Today is the deadline to register to vote, both in person and absentee, in the special election next Tuesday, August 19. Voter registration can be done online. [Arlington County]
Free Tacos at California Tortilla — California Tortilla is giving away free tacos today to celebrate being voted readers’ favorite Mexican in Washingtonian magazine’s “Best of Washington 2014” issue. Arlington’s three locations, as well as all locations nationwide, will offer one free taco per customer all day.
The theater’s parent company, Regal Cinemas, is running the promotion through Monday, Aug. 11. Customers can submit the self-taken photo by using the hashtag #RegalCheesieEntry on Twitter or Instagram, or can do so via the a web form.
The nachos are offered while supplies last, Regal says. If there are no nachos left at the theater, Regal will offer a $2 off coupon. Submitted photos will also be entered into a sweepstakes to win a “Hollywood VIP weekend.”
Friday is apparently the 8th annual “National Flip Flop Day,” and the Tropical Smoothie Cafe store in Virginia Square will be giving out free smoothies to mark the occasion.
From 2:00 to 7:00 p.m., the store at 3811 N. Fairfax Drive will be giving away free 24 ounce strawberry banana smoothies to anyone wearing flip flops, according to owner Marcus Barnett.
“This is a nationwide event that all Tropical Smoothies will be participating in and is absolutely free to anyone that comes in wearing flip flops,” Barnett told ARLnow.com. “Donations will be accepted… all proceeds will go to benefit Camp Sunshine.”
Camp Sunshine is a retreat in Maine for children with life-threatening illnesses. It’s offered free of charge to children and their immediate families and offers on-site medical and psychosocial support.