ANDERSONVILLE— With its booming small-business climate on Clark Street, Andersonville has long been recognized as the "shop local: capital of Chicago.
With the recent launch of a neighborhood loyalty program, the deal just got sweeter for residents and businesses.
LoLo, which stands for “Loyal Locals,” is a free loyalty program that rewards residents who spend money in the neighborhood. Members of the program receive five percent in rewards for every purchase made at participating neighborhood businesses, which they can spend as cash at those businesses or save up for exclusive experiences only offered to members.
Jessica Hammer, who spearheaded the program’s development and launch for the Chamber of Commerce, said so far, 12 businesses have signed up for the program, including Hamburger Mary’s, Women and Children First, Vincent, Early to Bed and The Sofo Tap.
“The goal is to influence customers to spend money where it has the greatest local impact,” said Clark Harris, the co-founder of LoLo, who started it in his native Asheville, North Carolina.
Harris, who said Asheville has a similar neighborhood feel to Andersonville, said the program benefits both consumers and businesses.
For consumers, it’s a “no brainer,” said Harris. The program is free, and consumers simply connect their existing credit cards to their online LoLo account.
Every time they make a purchase at a participating local business, the rewards are automatically tracked in their account. No rewards card necessary.
“We’re not asking them to change their behavior at all,” said Harris, “but it does encourage them to go independent whenever they can because they’re earning rewards.”
In addition to gaining valuable information about their customers, Harris said the value for businesses is in a combined strength with other local shops that lets them compete with the big chains.
“Sometimes you have to go out of your way and pay more for independent,” said Harris. “This gives customers more of an incentive to shop independent.”
For Jamie Thomas, an employee at participating business Women and Children First, being able to work with the chamber of commerce and other businesses was appealing.
“I think a lot of the businesses in the community have been focused on cross promotion to help other businesses,” said Thomas.
Thomas said being able to join forces with other businesses along Clark Street and in greater Andersonville can only help bring more customers in.
“We want to turn first time customers into regulars and help businesses make a deeper connection with their customers,” said Harris.