SOUTHWEST FLORIDA - There's a new local website where you can get a great deal, stir the economy, and help the community, all at the same time. It's all just a click away.
It's called TropicDeals. It's similar to Groupon.com with a focus on Southwest Florida. While it's gaining popularity, its creators say, they're not in it for the money. They just want to help the community as much as they can.
As roommates at FGCU, Michael Barton and Brian Meyer knew they wanted to combine their technological talents with philanthropy. "That is our biggest motivator," Co-creator Brian Meyer said.
And last week, they did, launching TropicDeals.com, a website reaching out to Fort Myers and Naples businesses and consumers. "We want to really focus on the businesses that were started here and run their businesses solely out of Southwest Florida," Meyer said.
Co-creator Michael Barton explains how it works: "If you can buy anything in bulk you can usually get it cheaper. What we do is we talk to a business and say if we can get a certain amount of people to buy into a certain product or service, will you discount it for us?"
Then, they advertise it on the website. "five people would have to purchase it before anyone could get the deal," Meyer said.
Once they hit the 5-person mark, everyone who bought into the deal gets a voucher for the business. No one gets charged until it does. The current deal is a $7 hair cut, shampoo & complimentary beverage from Bombshells - A Salon 4 Guys, in Estero.
"People in this economy need to be able to save money, and I as a business owner, need as many people directed to me as possible, and it's a great way for me to get advertising without a lot of expenditure," salon owner Lisa Ocelnik said.
The best part - a percentage from every sale goes to a local charity. "We try to take a charity aspect," Barton said. "We try to also work with the community and not just help ourselves, but also bring everybody together and really work as a community."
It's been a grassroots effort, gathering businesses as well as followers by word of mouth. So far, they have a couple hundred people signed up. Their goal is to eventually expand the website to Port Charlotte, then Venice. After that, they say the sky's the limit.