Hoping to lend support to local businesses during the current pandemic, the Gambit, an alt-weekly in New Orleans, La., recently launched Adopt-a-Small Business. The program supports locally-owned shops and restaurants by allowing the public to “adopt” them through donated advertising space.
Due to the pandemic, the Gambit itself had to deal with its own set of challenges. It had to furlough some staff members and implement a four-day work week in April. Additionally, the publication reduced its weekly publication schedule to bi-weekly, but as the pandemic began to seriously affect local businesses, publisher Jeanne Exnicios Foster realized she wanted to support them in some way. Advertising came to mind immediately, and with Gambit’s wide reach in the area, Exnicios Foster knew they could be extremely valuable.
The program, which officially launched in March, included four different packages. For $125, adopters can receive one 1/8-page ad to give to their favorite small business; $200 buys adopters two 1/8-page ads and a free Gambit tote bag; $350 buys three 1/8-page ads, the tote bag and a $10 gift card to a local coffee shop; and $500 buys four 1/8-page ads, the tote bag and the coffee shop gift card.
These prices are discounted around 60 to 70 percent of regular ad prices, and sizes were selected by Exnicios Foster because they were the most economical and easy for people to understand when purchasing the ad space.
The process for adopters is simple. On the program’s landing page, adopters only need to select the package they would like to purchase, and Gambit contacts them shortly after for details regarding the business or businesses they would like to donate advertising space to. From there, the adopter is done, and Gambit contacts the business on the adopter’s behalf to work with them in creating the ad to run.
The first set of ads ran in the Gambit’s April 14 issue. A few of the first businesses to be adopted included a restaurant and a yoga studio. Just three weeks after the launch, 80 businesses were adopted by 50 adopters.
The businesses that have been adopted have responded with absolute gratitude, Exnicios Foster said. Adopters are enjoying the program as well. One adopter shared with her: “Thank you for coordinating efforts for adopting (a) small business…Small businesses and the community at large value Gambit’s efforts to keep us all connected in healthy, prosperous time and also in the darkest of times.”
The Gambit ran Adopt-a-Small Business through May, but Exnicios Foster said if there is continued interest in it, it may become a permanent program. In addition, other markets have started to embrace this program, Exnicios Foster said. For example, Coachella Valley Independent in California launched their own version in late April and the Pitch, an alt-newsweekly in Kansas City, reached out to the Gambit to learn more about the program.
“I hope that this program helps local businesses reach new customers post-pandemic with the goal of strengthening the New Orleans small business community,” Exnicios Foster said. “I am grateful to the shops, restaurants, bars and service providers that have chosen Gambit to market their business via print and digital advertising for almost 40 years, and I hope this program will continue to build a positive relationships between Gambit and local businesses.”