There once was a time when the main streets of our towns were the place where dreamers and doers set up a space to offer their products and services to the public.
They worked hard at their craft to create something that was both affordable and added value to the lives of the townspeople.
Folks would make their way to those main streets in order to buy food, clothing, and other essential needs. They would stop in bakeries, coffee shops, cafes, and hair salons to get the news and gather together to catch up, but also to support that business. This bond between people and businesses created thriving communities that drew folks from other towns to visit. It created a culture that people not only wanted to be a part of, but wanted to live and raise families in.
It was like everyone had the same goal: to help one another. We focused more on what we had in common and less on whether we were left or right. That’s not to say people didn’t have their views on things, but they used these public spaces to share those ideas in civil, cordial ways. Debates and differences of opinions were encouraged, not silenced. We encouraged entrepreneurs to go after their dreams and supported them the best we could because we knew the success of our towns depended on the success of our businesses.
We are in a much different place today, aren’t we?
Big Corporations, Covid-19, & Consumer Convenience
Even prior to covid-19, small businesses have been struggling to compete with corporate conglomerates that continue to have the advantage of deep pockets, persuasive lobbyists, and a massive national and international customer base.
As more and more ways of communication were created, small businesses began to lose the ability to reach even those in their own market. As big box stores began to pop up more and more in our small towns, we began to see the exodus from our main streets.
Now in the digital age and with Covid-19 forcing people to stay home, online shopping has hit new highs while many small businesses experience new lows.
There is hope for our towns and small businesses
The one thing that has kept me motivated over the last few years has been all the business owners I’ve had the privilege to work with and hear their stories and see the passion they have for what they do first hand. They are determined to do everything they can to continue and improve their business. As long as that spirit of entrepreneurship lives in our communities, there is hope.
What if we could create a space for the dreamers and doers to share their products and services? A space where people can gather and catch up while they support local businesses?
This is what we are thinking.
What if we could create a Digital Main Street?
That’s exactly what we are striving to do here at Visual Element Media, but we need your help.
We are looking for businesses who would be willing to participate. This is a work in progress and we would love to hear some of your ideas too.
I would like to create 20-25 minute episodes specific to each local town that would include 3-5 minute segments featuring a business. During your segment you would have the opportunity to share specific products or demo a service that you provide. VEM would take care of all the recording and editing. We would also create graphics that educate people on the product, cost, and direct people to your website or to call you to place an order or schedule an appointment. Our initial thought was to have 4-5 businesses per episode. Again, this is just our initial thoughts. Recording would happen at your place of business (we will abide by the PA Health Dept. standards for masking and use of sanitizer).
When the time comes to premiere the episode, we would ask for permission to cross-post the video so we could premiere it on all participating businesses’ Facebook pages simultaneously. This will greatly increase the viewership of the episode. Since the episode would be pre-recorded, you and your staff would be able to engage with comments on the episode too!
What do you think? Are you in? Have questions? Suggestions? Let me know. I look forward to bringing our communities together digitally and rekindling a culture of support and unity.
Cunningham Media has been working with small businesses since 2009 in Western and Central PA helping them to communicate with their customers through video, social media, web, and other effective platforms. Cunningham Media was formerly known as Visual Element Media.