By: Eric Sandbulte, The Brookings Register
BROOKINGS – You never stop learning, and the folks on the Downtown Brookings Business District Committee are doing their part to ensure that downtown Brookings business owners keep on learning new ways to improve their businesses and outreach.
This committee, a part of the Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce, began hosting free lessons for downtown business owners and employees to help teach them a variety of skills. Their first one, held on Aug. 16, was on photography for social media.
“Pretty much every business is on Facebook or Instagram now or at least has a website. As a small business, sometimes you really can’t afford to have a professional photographer come in to take these pictures for all these day-to-day posts you have to do,” said committee member and downtown business owner Kirsten Gjesdal.
So, the 16 attendees learned from a local photographer how they could use something as simple as their phones to take pictures for their social media profiles.
“There are a lot of features on your phone that you have no idea exist that help you take good pictures,” Gjesdal said. “We practiced taking pictures of products in different ways, whether it’s from the top or from the side. We practiced taking pictures of people and then we practiced and talked about taking pictures of interior shots. So, even if you have an office and aren’t selling any physical products, you could still learn how to take good pictures of your people and place. And we talked about food photography a little bit, too.”
There are so far four other lessons being planned. The next one will be about merchandising, held on Oct. 2.
“We thought that’d be a good topic coming into the holiday shopping season. It’ll go over how to set up your stores and how to do your window displays and whatnot,” Gjesdal said.
After that is a November lesson on safety, which the Brookings Police Department will lead. They’ll go over a bit of everything, from keeping an eye out for counterfeit money and how to report it, safe overnight storage of money, what to do if you witness such crimes as shoplifting, assault or property damage, emergency preparedness, security systems and so on.
Then is a lesson about online reputation management.
“It’s working with Google and Facebook and how to respond to negative reviews, positive reviews, how to claim your Google profile and establish your business outside of your regular Facebook, Instagram, social media,” Gjesdal said.
The last lesson planned so far is about making your business more bicycle friendly, and it’ll likely be held sometime in May 2019.
The idea is to have a variety of lessons that should be useful to most business industries, whether they’re in retail, hospitality or food service. These lessons are going to be done with a 1-1 1/2 hour timeframe so that it isn’t much of a time commitment for business owners who wish to participate.
“We’re trying to keep it pretty consistent, too, so we’ll start it around 8:30 in the morning and end by 10 because that’s when we see most of the businesses starting to open during the week,” Gjesdal said.
With positive feedback from the first lesson given, Gjesdal is looking forward to helping downtown businesses with future topics.
“There are a bunch of things that would be positively impacted by this,” she said. She added that no less important is “the opportunity to just sit down with other people that own businesses downtown. It’s kind of hard to interact with each other because usually we’re all working at the same time. So to get us in a room together and share ideas with each other is a side benefit.”
And at the end of it all, they hope to have an even better and more vibrant downtown that’ll continue to be a great community resource.
Contact Eric Sandbulte at email@example.com.