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Each year, the Yelp Corporation invites 100 business owners from across North America to its San Francisco headquarters for a business leader summit. This year’s event, Coast-To-Coast: Community Powered Progress, was held November 15-16 and Jaime Leonardi, co-owner of Evanston based Stumble & Relish was among the few invited.
As one would expect, the event serves in part to help educate business owners on the benefits of using Yelp. But as Ms. Leonardi told the RoundTable, it was more like “a boot camp for business owners.” For two and a half days, small groups of like-minded business owners had conversations about event-based marketing, new social strategies, finances, and tips for hiring, training, and retention.
Ms. Leonardi was in a group with eight businesses in independent retail, all of whom sell hand crafted pieces and work directly with their artists. She was able to listen to other’s stories, talk about small-business advertising and share resources. “It was really exciting listening to a lot of different speakers,” said Ms. Leonardi who recounted the story of a Texas mover who started with one truck and relied entirely on word of mouth and “good customer service, the old-school way.”
Some might say Stumble & Relish’s approach to marketing is “old school” as well. Ms. Leonardi told the RoundTable about her company’s desire to “engage and connect” with the community through various events and projects. The store, located at 1310 Chicago Avenue, worked with Chiaravalle Montessori School on an “art bombing” project where students, local businesses and customers knitted circles on trees. Through her position on the board of the Chicago Main Dempster Mile business group, Ms. Leonardi has organized Wine Walk involving tastings at 65 local businesses the proceeds of which go to a local charity.
“I’m not big on advertising,” said Ms. Leonardi but she is “always on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter” where she can post pictures of her products. She said after this conference, she will also invest more time in Yelp.
The Yelp event was “motivating,” said Ms. Leonardi. “It is exciting to know there are a lot of like-minded business owners out there.” She has already begun looking at her business “with new eyes” and is excited to see what else can be done by reaching out to more local businesses.
Four local businesses where invited to the Yelp business event:
Bridget Lyons, Dog. Hotel & Daycare; Ken McGarrie, Dine|Amic Group: Prime & Provisions, Siena Tavern, Bar Siena; Niki Moon, Niki Moon Salon; and Jamie Leonardi, Stumble & Relish.