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Community News: Southwest

CRENSHAW : Book Puts Premium on Local Business

August 28, 1994|ERIN J. AUBRY

A coupon book is circulating that aims to give consumers a break while bolstering an area that has been economically discounted for a long time.

Carlton Jenkins, president of Founder's National Bank, recently began distributing a 67-page Community Buyer's Guide to selected bank customers to help tout local merchants and reinforce the notion that goods and services in Crenshaw and South-Central are worthwhile.

"This helps everyone all the way around--the business owners in our service area, the customers and Founder's Bank," Jenkins said. "We all need the advertisement. And merchants feel comfortable spending money on ads when they know they're going to big-dollar customers."

Printed on weighty paper stock and boasting a wide array of goods and services--from restaurants to art photographers to weight control centers--the book counters the tacky images of clip-out newspaper coupons and throwaway circulars.

"We did it this way for a reason," Jenkins said. "Obviously, we want people to use them. We didn't want them to end up in the trash bin."

The guide grew out of an effort among Jenkins and several other business people to aid black business owners in the aftermath of the Jan. 17 earthquake.

Jenkins, West Covina Lincoln Mercury and Golden State Mutual Life insurance agreed to underwrite the $3,000 it took to make up and print 2,500 copies.

Advertisers are offering 10% to 20% discounts and free gifts to first-time customers through Oct. 31.

Although the bulk of advertisers are in the Crenshaw and Central Los Angeles area, many are in Culver City, Mid-City and beyond. The idea, said advertising executive Rick Perkins, is to encourage people to recycle black dollars in as many areas of the Southland as possible, places they may not ordinarily think have black-owned businesses.

"This is a chance for black business owners to develop a base they don't normally have," said Perkins, whose Culver City-based agency Port & Associates Advertising did graphics work for the guide and sold most of the $50 to $150 ad spaces.

"The whole point is to make people aware of the great businesses right in their own neighborhoods, and beyond."

Advertisers also get a free month of service from (800) Unite Us, an Inglewood-based phone referral bank for black-owned businesses. Jenkins said he and other sponsors were careful to not to duplicate businesses in the book so that advertisers wouldn't be competing with each other.

Such advantages were enough to persuade restaurateur Ron Washington to advertise.

"We're new, so it's crucial that we do everything we can to get the word out," said Washington, whose Uncle Darrow's Creole-style restaurant on Venice Boulevard opened in February.

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