Technology is changing the way we live.
So- it is interesting to observe how Mount Airy – a neighborhood as old as America itself – is staying up-to-date, while still preserving its historic charm and quaint village-like atmosphere.
Unlike most places in America, Mount Airy remains rather untouched when it comes to commercial outlets and trendy chain stores. Instead, residents prefer the eclectic mix of locally-owned restaurants, art galleries, clothing stores and coffee shops that line cobblestoned Germantown Avenue.
But for business owners, this means that the task of promoting their restaurants and shops is even greater, since they cannot rely on the recognition that accompanies big retail names.
“To try and draw people from Center City or Northern Liberties can be a little challenging,” said Peggy Zwerver, owner of Earth Bread + Brewery in Mount Airy. Zwerver emphasized the importance of having an online presence, especially considering how many people have smart phones now. “So we’re getting on Facebook and we’re tweeting.”
Still, social media sites can be useful for following local businesses too, said Mount Airy resident Kyra Knox.
“You actually get really good deals,” she said, noting that she was particularly fond of a local bistro called the Wine Thief, which offers patrons premium wines paired alongside a five-course fixed-price menu. “I found out about it through Facebook,” said Knox.
But Jordan Shapiro, owner of InFusion Coffee and Tea Gallery, said he would rather take a different approach to social media than most of his Mount Airy colleagues.
“I don’t think social media is about a product that we’re giving to our customers. I think of it more as a way to keep customers in a conversation with us even when they’re not in the shop,” he said.
Shapiro also said that he is not interested in using social media as a platform for selling things, avoiding advertising specials or trying to lure people inside altogether. Instead, Shapiro would rather post thought-provoking articles about coffee, tea, the coffee industry and local things.
“I see this business as being both a coffee shop and a place for dialogue to happen about the community. We try to keep that going, so if there are interesting articles about Mount Airy we will post them on our Facebook,” said Shapiro.
Yet, despite how businesses use social media sites – as a way of bringing in new customers or staying on the minds of current ones – Mount Airy business owners know that an online presence is absolutely necessary for giving people a broader awareness about the area and its offerings.