Inside of Knoxville has been a labor of love for just over nine years. This city got under my skin when I moved here in 1982 and I never looked back. When I moved into downtown in 2009, it felt like the spot I was supposed to be and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Life in the center city has only gotten better over the last decade.
As the website evolved, I covered a wide range of topics. That said, of the over 2600 articles to date, a very large number have centered on local businesses. I’ve become friends with many owners and shared the story of the hard work and risk involved with operating a small business. The digital era has not been kind to brick-and-mortar operations. Always a roll-of-the-dice, opening a small business today takes an extra amount of nerve, passion and hard work.
Two years ago this month I met Anthony Ragland at the first USA Cycling Championships and mentioned him in the article, to which he replied in the comments. He’d been recruited by a start-up software company in Knoxville and moved here from Atlanta. We periodically ran into each other over the next year-and-a-half and this past January he invited me to coffee and told me the company he worked for had been sold and he’d taken a buy-out and was hard at work on a new project.
Anthony, who has a degree in computer science and is a Google-Certified search engine marketing professional brings 20-years of experience as a computer programmer and marketing practitioner to KnoxvillePage. He got his start in 1999, fresh out of college, when he was hired to build Evander Holyfield a website for his heavyweight championship fight against Lennox Lewis. Anthony built a website that generated over 1 million people on fight night and crashed the servers.
After working with Evander through retirement, Anthony started an SEO agency and became one of the SEO consultants in Atlanta. He’s provided Internet marketing services to hundreds of local businesses and discovered a problem. He observed the struggles that small, local businesses have and the difficulty they have competing with large corporations for digital space and customers. That’s where we intersected.
I often hear people say they value shopping local. It’s a great idea that helps lift our community by keeping our money in our city. Companies based elsewhere send our money, in the form of corporate profits, to their home base. Locally owned companies not only employ our neighbors, but the profits remain in the city. They are our culture, one aspect of who we are as a city. When local businesses thrive the entire community is made better.
So, people say they value shopping local, but we all know the allure of shopping online. It’s quick, easy and things come to us. Maybe we don’t have the time to shop. Maybe the item we need or want isn’t available locally. Or maybe it is and we just can’t find it because local companies don’t come up as readily in online searches. We have a disconnect between a stated value and actual behavior.
Anthony thought, “What if we could connect local consumers to local businesses in a way that makes local commerce work more efficiently? What if we leveled the playing field just a little for the small, local owners?” That was the birth of KnoxvillePage.
Anthony asked me to join him in the new venture because what he wanted to accomplish fit perfectly with the focus I’ve given to local business for the last nine years. We presented the idea to staff at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and that relationship grew as Anthony presented at “What’s the Big Idea?” Subsequently, we were invited to be one of a few startups to participate in the year-long Accelerator Program there.
Jonathan Sexton, COO at the KEC said of the new company:
KnoxvillePage has an opportunity to solve a big local problem. It’s expensive, complicated, and often ineffective for local businesses to advertise on national websites like Yelp, YellowPages, and Groupon. KnoxvillePage has created an easier and more affordable solution for local businesses to reach local consumers. We’re excited to join their mission and lend a helping hand.
KnoxvillePage addresses the hurdles faced by local businesses on several fronts. Imagine a search portal that only includes local businesses. Ranking highly in searches within the database becomes very manageable for the businesses included. Business owners may purchase a professionally designed and written SEO Business Page, which is optimized to organically rank in Google, Bing, and KnoxvillePage.
The business page layout features engaging photos, star business ratings, concise copywriting, call-to-action buttons, online gift cards, social media integrations, special offers, customer reviews, and Google reviews. The SEO Business Page is being offered for only $49 per month, for the first 100 customers. The regular price is $99 per month.
Additionally, exclusive keywords are available on the front page for a flat-fee starting at $89. An eCommerce marketplace will also be available for Knoxville area wholesalers, retailers, vendors, and makers. Marketplace sellers can list and sell their products to local residents and people anywhere in the country. KnoxvillePage charges a one-time product listing fee and a 15% drop shipment processing and handling fee on each order.
The website is currently in process of populating with businesses which purchase a page. Special appreciation goes out to Dott Baker Insurance Agency and Golden Roast Coffee who were the first to establish a page. Other businesses are in process of setting up pages and will be added, soon. Once populated, we’ll push KnoxvillePage.com for consumers and begin promotions including giveaways, social media blitzes and other marketing.
One of the most exciting parts of our plan is to include a centralized place for people to purchase local gift cards. How much money flows out of Knoxville every Christmas when local people line up at kiosks inside area chain stores to purchase gift cards to national companies? Imagine a go-to spot to buy all local gift cards. That will be us. We want KnoxvillePage.com to be the place people go to find local businesses, get special deals, and make buying local a reality rather than an ideal.
Want to know more? Want to explore listing your local, Knoxville-area (including the greater metropolitan area) business? We can help you with that. You can contact me at alan@KnoxvillePage.com or Anthony at anthony@KnoxvillePage.com. For the rest of you, please “like” our KnoxvillePage Facebook Page and watch in coming weeks for deals and contests and more fun. And help us spread the word as we shine the light on local business.