Mention the City of Miami and most people cringe and begin to share their horror stories. With eateries in the heart of Wynwood closing this month like Bar Next Door, owned by Wood Tavern Group, it’s questionable the direction the city is going. How will the little guys survive, when the owner of ‘Wynwood’s First Bar’ can’t keep his burger joint open? -- Support Local is the soul child of Isabella Acker and Pola Bunster of Prism Creative Group. In essence, it’s a free website directory listing local businesses, but doubles as a lifeline for small local companies connecting them to the consumers they rely on to stay open and succeed. The site is ever growing and continues to add vendors daily with additional sections rolling out later this year, but the project Prism said will potentially change the infrastructure of the city.
“Nine out of ten of our favorite concepts said if they knew what it took it open in Miami they wouldn’t have done it. That was an alarming thing to hear for someone trying to change the whole paradigm of what that means,” Acker said. “The very real thing is permitting, zoning, everything it takes to open a brick and mortar. You have all odds against you. The chances are the person who makes empanadas knows how to make empanadas; she does not know how to go to the city and deal with nine different departments. They end up having headaches, losing money, they’re low on resources already, and then they actually can’t open. We’re not political, but this affects our ecosystem.”
Currently Support Local is in positive talks with the City of Miami in efforts to create a small business application or an alternative route that eliminates additional permits, and can potentially expedite the process for locals who are trying to open their shop. Their efforts are fueled by the idea that if the city makes it easier for small businesses to open, Miami can grow into an Austin or Portland full of hometown pride where neighbors support friends and consumers drive the local economy. Their purpose is to create a spirit of friendship and pride without dollar signs pushing their initiative.
“We knew we wanted to have an impact, so we decided to be really intentional. We’re actually not going to have small businesses as our clients, and we’re going to help them. There are things we know will pay the bills, but other things are labors of love. We want to actively elevate the entire community,” Acker said.
“The real question is how much of an impact do you make when there’s a bottom line? These types of things are already free in other cities that already have an infrastructure that support’s small businesses,” Bunster added. “If we wanted to make a profit we’d be doing what all the other people who are hurting small businesses are doing- which is bleeding money from them.”
By next month Support Local expects to have 300 businesses in their database.
Being listed also includes perks from companies to clients as an incentive for people to shop locally. Every business is encouraged to come up with a creative perk when customers purchase from them and mention Support Local. For example, Morgan’s Restaurant is giving away a dozen cookies, and coffee shop All Day Miami is a doing a secret coffee pairing with chocolate.
The idea is not only to support businesses but to also encourage new mannerisms among locals.
“As a local, this movement is also saying ‘this is for you,’” Bunster said. “It’s not just support local businesses, it’s also to support local Miamians. So if a Miamian goes to Morgan’s the restaurant just raised their experience. That’s another part of it that makes me feel proud and included.
Support Local is also asking the community for help for their resources section. They are actively looking for individuals or companies who work to help small businesses either at the city level, with pro-bono law services, or with other means that can facilitate the process of opening in Miami.
“We know we can only do so much, but if there is any way we can fill the limbo void we want to help,” Bunster said.
So far they have some services listed, but they said it’s been difficult to find entities actively dedicated to this cause.
“I hope that we can change this and there are budgets allocated in the city for this type of work and the people rightfully get to have them,” Acker said. “This needs to happen. Someone has to care, and I hope they call us and we can be at the table of important discussions for small businesses. We would love to be advocates of that. We stand for that true and true.”
For more information visit http://supportlocalfl.com/directory-page/
and follow @SupportLocalFL on Instagram