LoveOurMontclair.com – A directory for Montclair businesses
By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
As of this week, more than 140 Montclair businesses have joined a centralized directory that organizers hope to promote Montclair stores, restaurants, vendors and services – and now, connect them with resources for Ida’s recovery.
“We realized we needed a place where they could know where all the businesses were. This meant a unique directory that could easily be used to find anything in Montclair ”, Raj Amin, founding partner of the consulting firm Team companies, noted. Amin is leading the small business subcommittee of Mayor Sean Spiller’s COVID-19 recovery task force, which was looking for ways to promote local businesses struggling with lockdowns, restrictions and the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, LoveOurMontclair.com officially launched. A spotlight function on Van Hook cheese shop and grocery store tells you how excited owners Christian and Laura Chastain were to move into their Walnut Street store in July (after the store’s original location in Jersey City): “We love the food scene here and appreciate the community support for our independent businesses. “Another, by the way Bio Salon at Watchung Plaza, quotes owner Anne Gray Hall on the virtues of going green: “I care about my body and the climate. I realize that our paths are continually unfolding. I enjoy life.
The project was created in partnership with the Montclair Center Business Improvement District (and funded by a New Jersey Main Street administered through the BID), but is not limited to businesses that are part of the district. The Montclair Center has its own directory at MontclairCenter.com, but there are six business districts in the township (Uptown Montclair, Watchung Plaza, Frog Hollow, Walnut Street and South End Village are the others), and some businesses are not part of any association. Gleason said he was happy to encourage his members to participate – “It takes a village, doesn’t it? – and said he believed the centralized resource could be a shared benefit.
The idea is an outgrowth of two previous initiatives. A previous site, ShopEatMontclair.com (which now redirects to LoveOurMontclair.com), focused on discounts and promotions. And Spiller, Deputy Mayor Bill Hurlock and City Councilor Peter Yacobellis had worked together to promote the “Love Our Montclair” concept in newspapers on social media last year.
Amin described ShopEatMontclair.com as a prototype of the current site and concept. But LoveOurMontclair, he said, “is more of an evergreen directory, something that can be used long term.”
“We didn’t want to focus just on discounts,” he said. Scores from big box stores and online retailers can often undermine small businesses purely on price, Amin said, but local businesses “focus on quality and are part of our community.”
And he sees LoveOurMontclair as a resource that can grow.
“It’s a platform. This is the one we hope all businesses will sign up for, ”he said.
The directory can be filtered by type of business and area of the city. “Sometimes discovery is difficult,” Amin said. “We wanted to help solve this problem. “
About $ 45,000 of the Main Street grant of $ 867,000 was allocated to create and maintain the website, Gleason said. He was not sure how long the funding alone would support the continued operation of the site, but said it would “certainly be until the end of the year or longer, enough time to explore. long-term options “.
Gleason and Amin both described it as a project driven by the dedication of the task force’s small business subcommittee and others involved.
“I cannot stress enough the passion of this committee,” said Gleason.
The $ 45,000, by itself, wouldn’t cover all of the costs involved in collecting the data and building the platform, Amin said, but “we’ve all contributed to the services to make this possible.”
The directory received a promotional boost from a Yacobellis fundraiser started following Ida, to help residents, businesses and nonprofits struggling with storm and flood damage.
He set aside $ 5,000 of the more than $ 41,000 his fundraiser raised in total, for the promotional and marketing support of LoveOurMontclair.com, including an advertisement in Montclair Local.
Yacobellis said when speaking with community and business leaders after the intense flooding from the storm, that it seemed like the donations he could realistically make directly to stores or restaurants suffering tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage wouldn’t be very helpful. But LoveOurMontclair.com was already intended in part to help a business community struggling with the pandemic; Yacobellis said he hoped that helping promote it could also benefit businesses following Ida.
The site itself has a “Hurricane emergency resource»Page – links to New Jersey Economic Development Authority Grants Program for businesses damaged by the storm, FEMA’s demand for disaster relief and other avenues of support.
“We thought, ‘Let’s put resources out there where these funds can do the most good,” Yacobellis said. “Let’s do something that has a real return on investment for these companies. ”