The founders of the popular Facebook group “Massapequa Moms,” a ‘virtual living room with 6,700 people,’ are leveraging their social media power to create a new discount loyalty card good all over Long Island—including, they hope, in Westbury.
With a hugely popular Facebook community, co-founders Dawn Boyle Kostakis and Stephanie Hartman wanted to “figure out a way that we could help the consumer and the business owner at the same time; keeping commerce going, keeping it all local and having the people get a little bang for their buck,” said Kostakis.
This summer, the pair launched the Long Island Loyalty card to “unite businesses and consumers by keeping the exchange of money in local hands, rather than [sending it] out of state or to large corporations.”
Members register for free online (www.longislandloyalty.com) or at one of the company’s pop-up events, and receive their card by mail in six to ten days. When used at a participating business, the customer can either take a 10% discount or get 10% of the purchase price added to a balance on their card—‘virtual cash’ to use at another participating store. In Westbury, members can use their card at Vintage Autobody on State Street.
“You can use the card as often as you like and the rewards never expire,” said Hartman. “That’s the thing; to keep people going back to local businesses and help them thrive.” Some restrictions are listed on their website.
To get it started, they enlisted the help of Greg Goldfeder in May 2013, and revamped the program about 30 times before finalizing it.
“I’ve been doing credit card processing for 12 years, and I learned about loyalty card programs through sharing an office with a company that did that,” said Goldfeder, now a partner in the venture.
Kostakis, Hartman and their other co-founders, Kerri Romeo and Denise Bianco, already knew plenty of local families that owned businesses. Along with Goldfeder, they began to sell the idea to business owners they already knew.
“There has to be a trust factor when something isn’t up and running,” said Goldfeder. “We ask for referrals and we’ve been getting a lot of businesses to join that way.” In just two months, they have gained 120 participating businesses; with dozens more applications to sort through. So far, the largest number of participants are in the Massapequa/Bethpage/Farmingdale area, but new entrants show the program is spreading north, east and west from the core community.
As for the businesses, which pay to be in the program, Long Island Loyalty needed to balance competing agendas. The businesses are allowed to impose certain restrictions, which are listed on the Long Island Loyalty website. For example, some restaurants are too busy on weekends or have specials for which the card is not applicable.
“We wanted something that was large enough where the card holder feels like they’re getting something, but small enough that we’re not hurting the business either,” said Goldfeder. “As far as our pricing and the exposure, it’s a no-brainer, but if for some reason the business no longer wants to be part of the program, we don’t charge them to leave, we part as friends.”
So far, that’s not happening. Customers have already approached the group about furthering the program and bringing it elsewhere; there is already a business in Manhattan.
“There are so many local businesses around Long Island and we want to continue growing,” said Kostakis. “We’ll keep you posted.”