LoLo, a mobile rewards program, partners with small businesses to encourage people to shop local.
During the 2007 recession, Clark Harris became frustrated with the credit card rewards program he was enrolled in.
“I couldn’t travel, so I could only redeem my points on gift cards, but there wasn’t an option to use my loyalty points on local companies,” says Harris, a real estate and marketing professional in Asheville.
[VIDEO: Watch a TV news report about LoLo at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BMpjaxzpGU ]
Harris wanted to support local businesses with the rewards he was accruing, so he began mapping out an idea for a local rewards program run through a mobile app rather than a physical card. He later met Matthew Simpson of Nashville, and together they developed the LoLo app that launched in 2013, just as the “Shop Local” movement began sweeping the nation.
LoLo is a free rewards program that Harris and Simpson believe will fix the disconnect between small businesses, nonprofits and their customers by rewarding locals who shop at participating merchants. Founded in Asheville, LoLo launched in Durham and Chapel Hill this month as part of an expansion beyond western North Carolina. It now operates in eight cities, called LoLocations.
LoLo, short for “loyal locals,” rewards shoppers five percent for every dollar spent at participating merchants—users simply load a credit card into the app and LoLo tracks their purchases to determine when rewards are earned. Users build up points over time and can redeem them for “LoDough” like free merchandise, discounts or VIP experiences that include private chef tastings and behind the scenes tours. The rewards are up to the merchant.
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