lolo_2013LoLo, an Asheville startup that aims to encourage local residents to spend their dollars with locally owned companies, celebrates is second anniversary this week by celebrating its members. A party at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Barley’s will include food, drink, music, prizes and more.

LoLo allows members to essentially turn their credit card into a rewards card by spending with locally owned businesses that are a part of the LoLo network. It’s free to join, and members earn 5 percent in rewards for every dollar spent. Rewards can include discounts as well as curated events, a feature that Clark Harris says LoLo is planning to expand. Those experiences include a behind-the-scenes tour at Wedge Brewing, which doesn’t offer tours, and a chance to meet a high-profile chef with a VIP restaurant experience.

“There are a lot of people bringing awareness to supporting local, but we’re trying to create a platform that provides a more tangible benefit,” Harris says. “We want to reward people with local goods and experiences and move the paradigm away from coupons and discounts, which allows the merchants to market themselves with their products.”

Loyal Local Week will run through Nov. 13, says Harris, adding that LoLo will have a presence at its 40 participating businesses to say thanks to members in person. People who join can earn 10 LoLo dollars on the spot and 7.5 percent in rewards. There’s a bonus for signing up a friend, too. LoLo has about 2,000 members and is celebrating a key milestone: the fact that members have spent half a million dollars in Asheville.

“Our motto is ‘Keeping the local vibe alive,'” Harris says. “We want to embrace the artistic visions of these business owners, because I really see them as artists. That’s why we created this.”

With all the growth coming to Asheville, including the ever-increasing presence of chain stores, Harris says its critical that residents think about where they’re dropping their dollars.

“The chains are coming, and we’re going to have to work together to protect that local vibe, or we’ll lose the very thing that makes our city special. Call it responsible growth,” he says. “We can do that together.”

 

 

 

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