Photo by Jessica Keller: Locals take advantage of an early spring day to shop in Magnolia Village last week. To improve awareness of what businesses are located in the neighborhood, the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce Marketing Committee is partnering with local graduate students to determine the best way to do that. Another group of business students will be studying opportunities for Commodore Way.
Photo by Jessica Keller: Locals take advantage of an early spring day to shop in Magnolia Village last week. To improve awareness of what businesses are located in the neighborhood, the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce Marketing Committee is partnering with local graduate students to determine the best way to do that. Another group of business students will be studying opportunities for Commodore Way.

The Magnolia Chamber of Commerce and local graduate students are partnering on two new initiatives to promote or improve business opportunities in the neighborhood.

The chamber was selected to work with partnering with University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business graduate students on two studies.

This week, the students and the chamber’s Marketing Committee began exploring how to encourage more residents to shop at Magnolia businesses.

Chamber President David Dougherty said, of the people who shop at Magnolia businesses, approximately 90 percent reside in Magnolia. The study will look at “how to heighten the connection between local residents and merchants,” he said, so more residents do their shopping in Magnolia, possibly through a buyer loyalty program.

“We don’t feel we need to reinvent the wheel. We just need to see what would work in our situation,” Dougherty said. “The whole idea is to get more exposure to our commercial partners.”

Kathie Claypool, Magnolia Chamber of Commerce Marketing Committee chairman, met with the graduate students for the first time this week.

The study is intended to expand and improve upon the “Love Local” pilot program the Magnolia chamber began, which has had some success, but is very manual in nature and not as broad as the chamber would like, Claypool said.

The graduate students will spend the next 10 weeks researching different successful shopper loyalty programs that are supported by chambers of commerce; what those programs have in common; what a bigger program in Magnolia would entail; and whether it would even be feasible for a chamber the size of Magnolia’s, Claypool said.

“The gist of this will see if we can we increase traffic to our local businesses from the Magnolia community through a loyalty program, and, if so, what would that program look like, and how would we make sure the program is appealing to the multi-generations that live on Magnolia,” Claypool said.

Claypool said she thinks most longtime Magnolia residents inherently think of visiting local merchants to do their shopping.  For those who are younger, newer to the neighborhood or who live on the outskirts, however, the question becomes how does the chamber reach those residents and entice them to visit local markets.

The second study involves working with the graduate students to identify opportunities in the northeast corridor of Magnolia along Commodore Way, near Fisherman’s Terminal.

Chamber member Pat Craft, who met with the students for the first time Tuesday to discuss the scope of the project, said many people do not know that the area along Commodore Way, near Fisherman’s Terminal, is filled with all sorts of warehouses and businesses that support the maritime industry, as well as breweries, car restoration businesses and more.

“As a chamber, we’re reaching down there with a whole new initiative to support and honor the whole maritime industry and figure out how we can support those businesses and what comes next,” Craft said.

He said he hopes the Foster graduate students will research and analyze the businesses currently in the area; identify how the business owners see themselves and their goals for the future; opportunities to help carry them into the future; and outline other opportunities to grow the area and take advantage of the under-utilized office suites and warehouses. Craft said, the idea is not only for the chamber to help those business owners in the area form a stronger identity for themselves individually and as a group, but also expand on that identity with an ultimate goal of creating a “green technology-forward corridor.”