by Kirby Lindsay
In December, the Fremont Chamber of Commerce began distribution of the 2010 edition of the Walking Guide to Fremont. This colorful, glossy and fundamentally Fremont publication includes a map of the neighborhood and listings for105 businesses located within the Fremont-ish area.
Listed businesses can be located slightly off the center of the Center of the Universe, as long as they pay. A listing in the Guide must be purchased and according to figures provided by the Chamber, for a non-Chamber member, a listing cost $160. Standard Chamber members pay $140 for the ad, while premium members (who pay a higher dues rate) get a ‘free’ listing.
Why To List
In describing his retail business, Kirk Richmond, a co-owner of Far East Handicrafts, volunteered that, “the best thing for us has been the Walking Guide.” His Fair Trade import business primarily sells wholesale but he also depends upon some foot traffic into his shop, located at the west end of the Fremont business district. Customers do find him, he has said, many clutching a copy of the Guide.
“We wanted to be in it; wanted to be part of it,” Greg Giles, a co-owner of Marketime Foods, explained. “We’ve been in it previously,” he insisted, although not in 2009. While he described it as “an affordable piece,” he admitted a big part of the decision whether or not to list comes down to cost. “We like when people see it, that we are in it,” he said.
Becky Buford and her husband opened their shop Les Amis in April of 1996, and another shop, Essenza, around the corner in 1998 – and both have been listed in possibly every Guide since. She likes the collective advertising concept. “I think it’s great that our community does it,” she said. For her, the benefits exist in accessibility of the Guide – distributed widely, all year long. “It’s an inexpensive way to get out over the city,” Buford admitted.
Why Not To List
At 105 listings, the Guide is hardly comprehensive. Besides very valid economic concerns, business owners have given other reasons not to list. The Guide appeals largely to tourists and visitors otherwise unfamiliar with funky, fabulous Fremont. For businesses that cater to a niche market, or those satisfied with their walk-in traffic volumes, the Guide may appear superfluous.
In attempts to contact owners of businesses not listed in the 2010 edition only two granted interviews, and neither chose to speak on the record. One, who preferred not to be identified, did list previously but said, “I don’t feel like we got anything out of it.” He also admitted, “I would do it some years if financially able. It depends if there is money in the bank account.”
Without them, the Guide still continues to be published, and distributed. The Chamber printed 50,000 copies of the 2010 edition to be distributed throughout the neighborhood – in businesses, government offices and white kiosks otherwise known as Hysterical Markers. Additionally, in 2009, Chamber representatives hand-distributed the Guide to almost 60 hotels and visitors centers around Seattle – and to concierges who want to direct visitors to something new and different.
That fact is significant for Buford. “I would like to see [the Guide] in all the hotels,” she said. Surprisingly, she spoke with no confidence about the distribution, but she advertises in the Guide nonetheless. “It’s important,” she said. It’s important to advertise, to participate in the community and to support spreading the word about Fremont – and the bounty of businesses here.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.