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VOL. 129 | NO. 123 | Wednesday, June 25, 2014

FanBank Shop Local Program Launches in Memphis

By Andy Meek

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A new shop local rewards program has launched in Memphis, one that brings a different approach to the efforts featuring loyalty cards and aggressive discounting that tend to be the norm.

FanBank, a new shop local rewards program in Memphis, has launched the FanBank Challenge, a city-wide game that’s helping introduce the program to the city. FanBank’s Memphis sponsor is the Memphis Grizzlies, and participants can get in the running for prizes like courtside seats at a game, a luxury suite, autographed jerseys and more.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

FanBank, on the other hand, is designed to connect customers with local businesses using an approach similar to that of an airline or hotel rewards program. Participating consumers leave their information on file, and then they go about their shopping habits as normal, incrementally benefiting from the program along the way.

That’s different from other shop local programs, such as Groupon, where customers often wait to hear about a discount offer that appeals to them before taking action.

In recent days, FanBank launched the FanBank Challenge, a citywide game that’s one of the first steps in introducing the program to the city. Spend $5 at five locally owned, participating merchants, and shoppers can get in the running for prizes supplied by FanBank’s Memphis sponsor, the Memphis Grizzlies, with prizes including courtside seats at a game, a luxury suite, autographed jerseys and more.

In addition to the challenge, shoppers who patronize participating FanBank businesses will earn FanCoins they can eventually redeem for prizes.

FanBank, which so far boasts more than 100 Memphis-area businesses participating, was conceived and launched by partners from Los Angeles and New York who chose Memphis as the first city in which to set up. In announcing the launch of the FanBank Challenge, FanBank president David Clary explained that the company chose to set up first in Memphis because of the city’s robust network of locally owned businesses and its neighborhoods with distinct, unique identities.

Lauren Lee, formerly a reporter with WHBQ-TV Fox 13, is FanBank’s market manager who says she was attracted to the concept because of the personal satisfaction of promoting local businesses and by the approach that FanBank brings.

“I’ve always liked the idea of shopping local,” she said. “I live in the South Main Arts District and try to shop local as much as possible. My first job was at my mom’s store, and my second was at my aunt’s restaurant. So I’ve always liked to support local businesses.

“The idea for this is if you shop at locally owned places that are signed up for FanBank, then you get local rewards. And this is about the best of Memphis. So, the best locally owned businesses with the best rewards in Memphis.”

The team behind FanBank already has been approached by other cities about bringing the concept there, but for now they’re focused on building it up and perfecting it here. Examples of participating FanBank businesses can be found at https://www.fanbank.com/merchant-list.html, and they include Downtown restaurants like Grawemeyer’s, the Green Beetle, South of Beale and Café Keough. East Memphis has Oak Hall, Brookhaven Pub and Memphis Pizza Café, among others. And Midtown has Burke’s Books, Celtic Crossing, Chiwawa and Goner Records, among others.

Shoppers who want to participate in FanBank are asked to visit fanbank.com and add their debit or credit card information there.

Customer metrics also eventually will be something FanBank can offer to participating merchants, likely on a tiered basis. Lee said the idea is for merchants to be able to see the days and times of when their customers are shopping, how much they’re spending on which days – data, she said, that merchants have told her would be “so valuable” to them.

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