NP Times Features Best of Your Town

Mike Townshend of the New Paltz Times writes:

Craig Shankles, 63, has started www.BestofYourTown.com — a marketing venture that aims to promote everything New Paltz. Its first major product is an illustrated, cartoon map of every business in the college town.

“Its focus is to help small businesses at a local level,” he explained.

Craig Shankles. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Craig Shankles. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Shankles sees a world where smartphones have changed retail forever — a world where behemoths like Amazon, eBay and Wal-Mart have a stranglehold on the marketplace.

“These behemoths have the power and the money to really crush small businesses,” he said.

Smartphones too have created a pickier, more-informed customer. If they can get it cheaper by ordering it online, they will — even if that means “showrooming” it at local store. “The technology is here in everybody’s hands.”

Far from panicking, Shankles sees it with passion. It’s a new era of business to learn about and master.

At the end of the day, we need a healthy business community

“I truly love being in business,” he said. “At the end of the day, we need a healthy business community.”

The map … illustrated by Mathew Maley and designed by Ad Essentials, … is a visual guide to what is available in New Paltz.

Shankles noted that many communities have shopping district maps, but they researched what worked and what didn’t. Maley also stuffed the map with inside jokes — putting in the Women in Black protestors and skydivers from The Ranch. It bleeds hometown pride in subtle ways — a way that most locals will get immediately. They printed 15,000 maps initially — all of them are gone.

“It’s fun. It’s attractive. It’s easy to read,” he said. “I sold that map out in two weeks.”

Shankles added: “The business community really supported that project.”

While the 2014 map is print-only, eventually it could become an interactive app or website — guiding locals and out-of-towners to shops downtown.

He thinks the map will have people “armed and ready to shop.”

 Read the full article online here »

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