CORAL SPRINGS, FL – As local businesses began feeling the economic pinch of the coronavirus outbreak, two longtime friends hatched an idea to support small mom-and-pop companies in their community – particularly Coral Springs.
Lauren Linville and Robin Verse created a new website to make it easier for consumers to buy gift cards and promotions at their favorite local businesses.
So far, since the website GatherLater.com went live earlier this week, four of the 10 businesses that signed on are from Coral Springs.
“This website is 100 percent in support of businesses,” said Linville, an emergency management consultant who lives in Coconut Creek and is part of Coral Springs Coconut Creek Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We want to help them stay alive through this crisis.”
The idea behind the website is fairly simple: consumers come to the website, search for a type of business they want to support in a city close to them, and then click to that business’s gift card or promotions page to make the purchase.
It’s basically a pass-through website – or “free referral site” – to get people interested in helping a business reach that business’s shopping or purchase page.
Verse, who lives in Boca Raton and works in corporate marketing, said she and Linville aren’t interested in making a profit from the website. Instead, she said, their goal is to help businesses survive the sharp drop in revenue.
“People right now want to help businesses, but they don’t want to go inside restaurants or other places to buy anything. So we’ve created a way for them to do that here,” Verse said.
Linville, 32, and Verse, 36, who have been friends for nearly eight years, have known many business owners who have provided free food and other services to local youth sports leagues, school functions, and charity events without asking for anything in return.
Now, with the economy in ruins, they said they want the community to return the favor by purchasing from the same local businesses that have donated so much over the years.
To get started, Linville started reaching out to businesses close to her and connected to her local chamber of commerce. If the website grows in popularly as they hope, Linville and Verse said they envision hundreds and eventually thousands of businesses across Florida to sign up with GatherLater.com.
“We have to support local businesses,” Linville said. “They are the heartbeat of the community. They have kept it going.”