By Eric Trent / [email protected]
Editor’s Note: The Chronicle is working to help local businesses suffering the effects of the spread of the COVID-19 virus and associated government orders to shut down or limit business. There will be an article about a local business in every issue of The Chronicle and on chronline.com in the future. To be considered, email reporter Eric Trent at [email protected] Additionally, The Chronicle will continue to offer its coverage of the coronavirus and its effects in the community, state and nation for free outside of our paywall at chronline.com.
On May 4, owner Mitch Moberg and his Twin Cities Trading Post store in downtown Chehalis received a digital marketing grant from the Chehalis Community Renaissance Team (CCRT).
The Digital Marketing Grant program, which began on April 13, is CCRT’s response to the effects of the novel coronavirus on small businesses in the region.
CCRT’s main objective is to work on projects focused on community development, economic development and downtown development, but with the recent impact of the novel coronavirus, CCRT has focused on supporting businesses. local in this time of need.
The Experience Chehalis website states, “The grant program is offered in 2020 to help these businesses gain a stronger position online and help businesses that have been damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic to get back on their feet and recover strongly. “
Twin Cities Trading Post recently used Facebook marketing ads to increase its exposure on social media, and this grant will help continue its efforts to attract customers. Eligible grant expenses include improving a company’s website, digital marketing advertising, developing e-commerce costs, and managing social media. The grant will be 75 percent of the costs of a project, up to $ 2,500 per company.
“We will use our grant to fund a digital advertising campaign on Facebook,” Moberg said. “We try to provide a link to the items shown in our ads. “
Grants are awarded on a first come, first served basis and applications will be accepted until December 31, 2020 or while funds are exhausted. All projects started after March 1, 2020 are eligible for the grant and applications are reviewed and decided by the Chehalis Community Renaissance team.
For more information, visit www.experiencechehalis.com or contact Chehalis Community Renaissance Team Director Annalee Tobey at [email protected]
The subsidy comes at a most opportune time for Moberg and its trading post, which has seen a sharp decline in activity over the past six weeks.
“Dramatic downfall, definitely,” Moberg said. “What we are getting is even better than some might say, so we appreciate what little we have.”
The trading post is a financial institution that offers loans and retail businesses. For the most part, it has operated as a curbside business with their financial services over the past few weeks. Now it allows customers to enter the store one by one, provided they have an appointment.
It has been difficult for Moberg to switch to sidewalk, phone, email and social media activities seven days a week over the past six weeks. And there has been a small percentage of customers who think the novel coronavirus outbreak isn’t a real medical emergency, and they don’t think they should have to make an appointment and follow social distancing guidelines. that the trading post tries to enforce to keep its customers safe, Moberg said.
“We have a couple who come to the door every day and express their displeasure that we are only operating in a certain way to keep people safe,” Moberg said.
For the past two years, the trading post has paid its software vendor additional fees each month for transactions used in a mobile app, called MobilePawn, which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and the App. Apple store. Moberg has instructed its customers to use the app when they need to renew their loans, make loan repayments, layaway payments, or even shop in the store for in-store purchases. line for curbside pickup.
The trading post is also part of Buya Marketplace, an online store that offers items from county pawn shops. Twin Cities Trading Post in-store items, some with photos, can be found using the “find a store” tab at the bottom of the home page.
“We are trying to re-educate a lot of our customers to use these online services or the app to try and help them,” Moberg said.
Before people started getting their stimulus checks and / or unemployment, many came to the trading post for a short-term financial bridge to pay their bills.
“Now we’re seeing people taking them back to the companies and industries they work in, but they need a little bit of gasoline money to get that first paycheck,” Moberg said. “So we offer short-term bridging loans and other financial services to help people. “
Moberg is doing maybe 10% of his usual trades right now, which is the opposite of what he expected. He believes that some people in the community who might need help are unaware that the trading post is open for business.
“The pandemic has definitely affected our business as well as everyone in the neighborhood,” Moberg said.
Moberg started the trading post in July 2009 as a start-up. He had worked in the industry for a few decades for large corporations and wanted to branch out into his own financial services business.
“I wanted to be alone so that I could participate more in the community that I wanted,” Moberg said. “I was a little embarrassed to work for large companies. “
Since then, Moberg has been active in the community, joining small business associations and getting involved in organizations such as Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society and supporting other nonprofits such as the Boy Scouts. of America.
“We’re just trying to stay involved and support our community that supports us,” Moberg said. “We’re just trying to do our part.”
Despite multiple setbacks along the way, the trading post remained open, even extending delays for customers. The trading post industry is a little different from other businesses in that it operates on a 90 day cycle. Transactions the company failed to complete last month will affect its revenue for up to a year, Moberg said.
“We are working hard to adapt and work with our customers, but there are no guarantees,” Moberg said. “I like to be optimistic and focus on what we can control. The real indicator is if you see us from when Washington State finally lists all security protocols, if we’re still around 12 months after that, then we’ve done it.
More information about the Twin Cities Trading Post
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday
Place: 548 N. Market Blvd., Chehalis
Best Selling Items:
Journalist Eric Trent can be reached at [email protected] Visit chronline.com/business for more local business coverage.