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2021
From The Print Last Week

Emporium manager Gigi Davis-Dyer devised a new initiative, the Emporium Customer Appreciation Program, that will offer discounts to locals who have the card (in foreground) for items such as coffee. The program’s release coincides with price hikes for some items and is an attempt to offset the cost for those who live or work in Yellow Springs. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)

Discounts for locals at Emporium

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By Elle Peifer

Emporium Wines/Underdog Cafe in downtown Yellow Springs implemented a new customer appreciation program on Tuesday, June 1.

After raising its prices on some goods to keep up with rising costs, the Emporium implemented the program to offset the price for locals.

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According to the coffee shop’s outgoing manager, Giovanna “Gigi” Davis-Dyer, with the program, local customers will get 15% discount on coffee drinks, breakfast items, and soup and sandwiches.

“The whole purpose of the discount program is to ensure that we are offering our locals and our regulars an affordable product for them,” Davis-Dyer said in a recent interview. “Especially given the higher costs and everything associated with running a business in downtown Yellow Springs, it is meant to keep things affordable.”

Anyone living or working in the Village of Yellow Springs can join.

To sign up, all community members need to do is visit the Emporium. Members will pay a one-time fee of $5 to offset the cost of the cards. People wanting to sign up are asked to bring an ID, piece of mail or a pay stub to determine village residency or employment.

Of the initial fee, Emporium owner Kurt Miyazaki said it will be good for the life of the program.

“The plan is to really have the program forever,” he said. “We want this to be a permanent program.”

Miyazaki, who has owned the Emporium since 2005, said he recently decided to raise prices due to market value increases for the products. In addition, he is looking to increase pay for employees and continue health insurance benefits for full-time employees.

The Emporium currently has 13 employees, which is up from last summer. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the business had  upwards of 25 employees, with a few volunteers.

The Emporium closed its doors for about two-and-a-half months in the spring of 2020. The business has gradually reopened since last summer, starting with a walk-up counter. Just last week, the Emporium reopened its indoor seating after waiting until all employees were fully vaccinated.

“Overall, it has been really challenging financially,” Davis-Dyer said of the last year.

The goal of the customer appreciation program is for the Emporium to keep its prices on par with market value while keeping things affordable for locals.

“We have always fought between the two ideas of having market value pricing on our items and making more money or keeping things affordable for locals, especially for young people and retirees,” Davis-Dyer said. “This is the best of both worlds.”

Davis-Dyer hopes that this model is successful enough so that other businesses in town could adopt a similar program.

“Some sort of community initiative would be awesome to keep the locals in our businesses,” she said.

Davis-Dyer, the store’s manager for 10 years, has been working to develop this customer appreciation program for the last two years. She’s leaving soon after the program’s launch to further her education, she said. Angela Moore has been hired as the store’s new manager.

“I am sticking around to see this project through,” Davis-Dyer said.

Davis-Dyer grew up in Yellow Springs, experiencing the divide between businesses and community members. She was not always able to afford to shop at businesses downtown. She saw a need to bridge this gap, which led to the idea of the appreciation program.

“There were a lot of things in town that were out of my reach here,” Davis-Dyer said. “I saw the value in shopping at places in Yellow Springs, but also the value of paying employees enough to also shop and live in the village.”

*The writer is a rising senior at Ohio Wesleyan University and Yellow Springs Community Foundation Miller Fellow reporting for the News. She can be reached at elle.peifer@gmail.com.

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