SupportLocal lets Denver businesses lean on each other

Justin Sanger hopes he didn’t just create a new social networking site; he wants to build an ecosystem.

Sanger and his colleagues at SupportLocal launched their site in April as a way for consumers to recommend and support local businesses. The system is expansive in that people can build a network of friends as well as make and request recommendations.

The site is about to get bigger as SupportLocal is ready to jump into the business side and launch a membership for businesses to be interactive with the consumers.

“The marketplace knows us for our consumer destination and powering word of mouth amongst friends, tapping into the propensity of individuals to want to recommend a business to another,” Sanger said.

A business membership will cost $129 per year or about 35 cents per day. Sanger said his company of seven employees is in the midst of an outreach program.

He said feedback has been positive, but he wants to be sure it’s a no-brainer for local businesses and give them a voice to show what customers mean to them.

“There are tens of thousands of businesses out there in Denver that want to do more to demonstrate that community means something,” he said.

One local business already on board with the SupportLocal program is Archadeck of Front Range, a custom designer of outdoor spaces based in Denver and serving the metro area. Co-owner Ann Crays said she sees great value in SupportLocal.

“The power can be pretty significant for us,” she said.

Crays said she has been using the site as a consumer recommending other businesses for the past few months and is excited to get involved on the business side.

“For me, we’re not trying to draw people from Kansas or Cheyenne, we’re trying to get people locally and start getting a local reputation,” she said. “I don’t believe there is a tool out there that drives the referral piece for local business. It’s significantly important.”

Sanger said that instead of advertising on Facebook or using Twitter multiple times per week, businesses should be seeking those recommendations from clients, which would carry more weight.

Consultant Lizelle van Vuuren with EmSpot is assisting SupportLocal with their outreach. She said not supporting local businesses and connecting them with consumers would hurt communities.

“Without a supporting local structure ecosystem, you’re going to have failing small communities and you’re not going to have job creation,” she said.

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Joe Vaccarelli: 303-954-2396, or