Throggs Neck merchants roll out shopper IDs

Stores all over Throggs Neck are about to enter the Internet age, though shoppers can choose not to come along.

The Throggs Neck Merchants Association is planning a new shopper I.D. system. Every consumer that wishes to participate will get a special ID card.

The ID will store a shopper’s information in an online database accessible to business owners for the purpose of better communication, notification of sales, and special correspondence to distribute discounts or birthday wishes.

John Cerini, president of the TNMA, first introduced the idea to other merchants at the organization’s dinner meeting on Wednesday, July 28 at the Wicked Wolf restaurant. At the time, Cerini said that the plan was to put a mailing on every doorknob in Throggs Neck. The mailing would have the shopper discount card attached at the bottom with perforations, so that anyone interested could tear it off, then register their card by phone or online.

But Cerini now says the TNMA has had to rethink that element of distribution. “We’re talking about close to 20,000 households,” he said, “so it’s a big job to take on. Originally we were just thinking we’d get volunteers and go door-to-door, but it’s just too big of a job. Now we’re assessing costs and thinking of other methods.”

That may be for the best, since, as one business owner suggested at the meeting, a mailing on the door might annoy many home owners. “Maybe people won’t like junk on their door,” Cerini had conceded, “but then they don’t have to take the card.”

It’s not just the method of distributing the cards that might alienate some shoppers. The system, which the TNMA hopes to fully implement by October or November, may be too modern and technology-reliant for shoppers and even for some merchants. “It will be a little controversial, sure,” acknowledged Cerini, “but for the most part it should be well-received. These are people that shop in the neighborhood, so I think they will want additional discounts and savings. Why wouldn’t they?”

Angela Molinini, who is secretary of the TNMA and runs the business Figtree Wellness, is aware that some shoppers may fear Big Brother.

“The biggest hurdle will be Internet issues, and we’re fully aware of that,” she said. “But we will also allow residents to opt out if they don’t want any information sent to them. Then again, they wouldn’t get the benefits and deals individual merchants are going to offer, so we hope most won’t opt out.”

After signing up for the card online, shoppers would present it at stores in the community. Based on their shopping habits, store owners will then be able to send them information in the mail, whether that be a thank-you note, birthday card, special discount reward, or information on a general sale.

As one merchant asked their fearless leader at the meeting, Why now? Cerini said the answer is about grabbing attention and getting the group’s name out.

“We heard recently that many people don’t even know who the Throggs Neck Merchants are,” he said.

“Any business person will tell you,” said Cerini, “the more you stay in touch with your customers, the happier they’ll be, and the more customers you’ll have.”

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