Local business owners turn to social media to keep in touch with customers


Small Town Skate Shop, 229 E. Lincoln Highway, uses Facebook as a way to reach more customers.

By Dave Gong

An internet presence is essential for local businesses looking to market their products, said Holly Nicholson, social media specialist for university relations.

“Almost everything can be done online now, and people are spending more and more of their time there,” Nicholson said. “Businesses need to be where their audience is.”

Cora Vasseur, owner of Babs and Coco’s Tea Emporium, 818 W. Lincoln Highway, said her store uses Facebook and Twitter, along with other websites like Yelp, Foursquare and Google Places. The Tea Emporium is working on a website that will feature an online store, she said.

“It helps build a community,” Vasseur said.

Vasseur said social media helps her keep in contact with people who have shopped at the Tea Emporium, who may come in looking for what others have purchased.

“We have people come in who just Google us,” Vassuer said. “We have people coming from Chicago and Rockford looking for tea.”

Ariel Ries, owner of SMLTWN Skateshop, 229 E. Lincoln Highway, said Facebook is her store’s main means of talking to people.

Ries said she updates the store’s Facebook page about once a day. Facebook helps with the store’s business because of its ability to garner immediate responses, she said.

“I don’t try to sell anything on Facebook,” Ries said. “I just try to get people into skating and art.”

Moxie, 230 E. Lincoln Highway, has a website, blog and Facebook page, said Courtney Wilson, store manager.

“The website gives people a chance to see what we have before they come out,” Wilson said.

Wilson said Moxie’s Facebook page features new products available for purchase. Due to the rare or vintage nature of some of the clothes available at Moxie, Facebook helps notify people of the new products so they can come in before they are gone, Wilson said.

Nicholson said the benefits of marketing via social media and the Internet outweigh the drawbacks, which include keeping profiles updated and dealing with negative feedback.

“Social media has turned marketing into a conversation,” Nicholson said. “Feedback is almost instantaneous.”