I am on the board of the Pride Center of Vermont and through my work there, I’ve seen what happens when passions combine and the benefits that can bring to the bookstore. There is an amazing organization called Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility that works very hard to network businesses of all sizes with each other. Both the bookstore and the Pride Center are members. I had gone to a VBSR mixer in March with my Pride Center hat on and found that I was networking for the store just as much, with great results.
At this mixer I met Amy, who approached me because she loved my boots, and we started talking, first about shoes, then about business. She runs VBSR’s Marketplace, a place where businesses can set up trades for goods and services. As she was explaining this to me, it became clear that this was something that both the bookstore and the Center could take advantage of. We set up a meeting for the Pride Center which had a more immediate need for this. When the Executive Director had to step out the meeting for a few minutes, I turned to Amy and asked what the Marketplace could do for the bookstore.
Well, it turns out, they could do a lot. The biggest thing they could do was help me be able to afford to underwrite on our local public radio station for only $500 cash for a total of 50 spots to be used when we needed. This is a massively amazing deal. I asked how this was affordable and Amy explained that in addition to the cash payment, the bookstore would then offer $1,500 in gift certificates on the Marketplace that other businesses could buy and use for their own trades. It’s really a genius system that leverages what the member businesses do best with the services that businesses need. By giving the gift cards, we are expanding the reach of the bookstore and are hoping to reap the benefits of introducing new customers to our store.
Not only did we get a great deal on the radio underwriting, but because of the VBSR connection and the weight of their Marketplace, we got stunning placement for our spots that almost caused me to drive off the road several days ago when I heard it during the prime drive time. We decided to start by running only 10 spots, one a day for 10 days leading up to the Pride Center benefit. As a business we were allowed to say that the Flying Pig was a proud sponsor of the Pride Center benefit. So, this was a win-win for both of us. The store has seen new customers since the underwriting spots aired, and we sold more tickets than ever to the benefit. And we still have 40 spots to go that we’ll use for bookstore events and summer reading promotions.
So, the things I’ve learned about this partnership can best be summed up quite simply by remembering that saying yes to something different can be a total genius move for all involved.