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Vermont's collective buying website

 

By Danny Monahan
Small Business Administration public information officer

Daily deal websites offer discount vouchers on everything from yoga classes to ice cream cones from businesses throughout the country and the world.

Localvore Today located in Burlington has decided to take the daily deal website concept and apply it at the local level, and only the local level.

“We don’t offer vouchers for big national chains or franchises,” said Dan White, Localvore Today owner. “We only offer vouchers for local businesses throughout Vermont.”

Localvore Today is the brainchild of White. White, who is from Evanston Ill., came to Vermont because he felt the market was lacking competition, and wanted to create a daily deal website that is socially responsible and supports buying local.

“I specifically chose this market because Vermont culturally represents the buying local mentality,” he said. “There has been a big push these past few years to get people to eat locally, but I think we need to take it a step further and get people to buy more locally produced products. And I think this is a great place to start because Vermont has been ‘buying local’ before it was cool.”

According to White, each year millions of dollars leave Burlington only to flow out of state and many times out of the country.

“As a local and independent merchant, we strongly believe we need to keep dollars in Vermont,” said White. “Purchasing from us, you are essentially buying local twice.”

The company started with 1,000 email subscribers and now has more than 7,000. One of the ways it has been able to grow is through White explaining to merchants that Localvore Today can be used as an alternative to traditional advisement.

“This is a measureable investment,” said White. “A business can spend $500 on a printed ad and it may never know how it affected their business. By using Localvore Today, the money spent can be measured and tracked through the vouchers purchased.”

Localvore Today was able to establish itself and learn how to build a local presence in Vermont with help from the Vermont Small Business Development Center located in Randolph.

“I have advised Dan on a number of topics including growth strategies, funding opportunities and general business questions,” said Steve Densham, a VtSBDC Area Business Advisor in Burlington and St. Albans.

“Dan’s business model is a good one with a high probability of success based on his ‘local money stays in Vermont’ approach, which could afford him a sustainable, competitive advantage in this and other markets,” said Densham.

White eventually wants to grow his company and reproduce its concept in communities throughout New England.

“Steve has been a tremendous help,” said White. “He believes in our model and he recognizes its pioneering aspect. Localvore Today really appreciates his guidance.”

Advising is the foundation of the VtSBDC. Its advisors, located throughout its 12 regional officers, offer no cost, confidential, one-on-one business advising to business owners and startups.

“Dan is driven and has a great air of enthusiasm tempered with a sound, pragmatic approach to balance his entrepreneurial verve,” said Densham. “Dan is a great example of the 21st Century. He is a young entrepreneur who has vision, drive and the right amount of swagger to bring an innovative concept to market.”

For more information about how to start or grow a Vermont-based business, visit www.vtsbdc.org.