We’ve been hinting at a big announcement for the last week and we’re finally ready to unveil our latest project.
Do you ever get tired of searching for local businesses on the Internet only to come up empty handed? We sure do. I mean, we’re on the Internet all day so why can’t all of our local businesses be there too?
What if you woke up one morning and all your favorite local businesses all of a sudden had a website that was easy to find and featured useful information instead of just their name and a phone number that might or might not actually work?
What if instead of driving to the bakery on Sunday morning in hopes that it’s actually open when you got there because you couldn’t find your phone book to call them, all you had to do was quickly look them up on their website and in bold red type it said, “Open today until 3 p.m.” answering your question immediately? Fumbling around on the Internet and sifting through a bunch of irrelevant links isn’t what you’re wanting at that point is it? You’re wanting donuts. Just donuts, please.
What if it was like that for every business?
Or better yet, what if all of these websites were located in one spot so you could just skip the search engines completely?
Well, if you’re anything like us and you’re thinking to yourself, “Yeah, that would be pretty cool I guess,” then you’ll be happy to know that we’ve been working on solving that problem here in Washington County with a brand new website we’ve just launched called Local540.
Local540 is a local directory that’s actually local. It’s not one of those annoying yellow pages sites where you choose your state, then you choose your city and then you cross your fingers. It’s not run by some national company who thinks that it can put your zip code in front of you and fool you into believing you’re looking at a real local website. Local540 will live up to it’s name. We promise.
A local directory must be run by local people who actually care about the local community and its economy. And it has to include every business, not just the ones who’ve signed up, right? I mean, who wants to search for “Pizza” and only get a list of 4 pizza places when you can already name 6 off the top of your head?
Right now, we’re focused on the southern I-540 corridor which is Washington County and we have over 7,300 businesses listed. For nearly 3,000 of them, we’ve already uploaded a photo and entered their hours of operation. When we expand to Benton County later in the year, those numbers will grow to include everything in Northwest Arkansas.
70% of our readers said they shop at local businesses “as often as possible.” For the 26% of you who said you only shop locally “when it’s convenient,” maybe a tool like Local540 that helps you quickly locate all of our area businesses will make supporting our local economy a little easier.
Did we miss something? I’m sure we did. Have we made any mistakes? Definitely. But we’re dedicated to making sure that no business is left behind and that all the information is spot-on correct. As new places open, we’ll add them. If we realize we’ve missed one, we’ll add it. If you’re a business owner and you’re not listed, we’ll add you.
Business owners can claim their listing and update it all they want for free. And if they already have their own website, they can link to it from Local540.
Some of the listings are expanded to include photo galleries, videos, menus and events calendars with reminders. For example, if you want to be reminded about the Son Volt show at George’s, just enter your cell number to get a text message alert.
You can expect to see us linking to Local540 whenever it’s relevant. And we’re going to need your support here. Does that mean you have to pay us to use it? Heck no. But you could help us spread the word.
Please let us know what you think. We honestly want your opinions, advice, and even your help in making it a one-stop shop for local business information. If we’ve missed something or put in the wrong information, just yell at us and we’ll fix it. Or if you like what you see, please tell someone about it.
So have at it. Go check it out. Search for “pizza” and behold every pizza place in the area. Type in your street address if you want to and find the closest one to your house. Click the “Bars & Clubs” link on the front page to see all the bars and clubs or search for Mae’s Emporium and zoom in on the map to see exactly where that little place is that we wrote about a few months ago.
Visit local540.com and see what all the fuss is about. And for those of you who have an iPhone or a similar mobile device, we’ve got a mobile version that can be accessed at m.local540.com.