The Internet Association recently hosted a small business crawl in Fremont, California. The small business crawl in October put the spotlight on the lesser-told success stories in communities surrounding Silicon Valley that have experienced significant growth on Main Street because of the Internet.
The Irvington District in Fremont has developed into a bustling neighborhood center. What started out as a way station for travelers, is now a commercial and retail center serving tens of thousands of local residents and employees. The crawl featured three businesses in the district: Mission Peak Fitness, Bean Scene Café, and Inkies Tattoo Studio. At each stop, small business owners spoke about the positive impact the Internet has had on the local community and how they have harnessed innovative web technologies to grow their businesses. We were fortunate to have a great group join the crawl, including Assemblyman Bob Wieckoswki (D-Fremont), the Fremont Chamber of commerce, and member companies from The Internet Association.
The first stop was Mission Peak Fitness, a unique health club that offers a variety of group exercise classes including Zumba, U-Jam, and Yoga among several other popular classes. Owner Vince Hall explained that sites such as Yelp and Google have played a substantial role in attracting and communicating with his members . Mission Peak Fitness has engaged in a robust social media engagement campaign through Facebook and Twitter to keep in contact with their clients. They send daily reminders about eating healthy, fitness and injury prevention tips, and upcoming member specials and fitness classes. This direct, regular, and meaningful contact with clients has connected them to members on a level that extends far beyond the gym’s four walls.
The next stop on the tour was Bean Scene Café, a coffee shop that integrates the Internet into their business model. The café is a favorite among the residence and visitors. As one Yelp reviewer put it, “What a great little place! Comfy couches and chairs, great drinks and tasty food – I love it here! Delicious chai latte plus free wifi and friendly staff.”
Part of Bean Scene Café’s allure is their unique service which allows customers to place to-go food and drink orders online. Facebook is also an important marketing platform they use to communicate daily drink and food specials and promote their upcoming events to their customers.
Our last stop was at Inkies Tattoo Studio, a high-end custom tattoo and full body piercing studio that makes substantial use of both Facebook and Instagram to help drive business and keep their followers informed of company updates. Social media allows Inkies to cater to customers living in the Bay Area and also engage the broader Tattoo community.
Mission Peak Fitness, Bean Scene Café, and Inkies Tattoo Studio are emblematic of how Main Street businesses use the Internet to compete in the local and national marketplace. California’s Internet economy serves as an important growth engine for small business owners. As Assemblyman Wieckowski discussed on the crawl, “It’s critical we work in our local communities with small businesses to ensure California continues to remain a leader in technology and that policy decisions we make support innovation and help grow local Internet economies across the state.”