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Business helps new residents connect with businesses

Peggy Gerber at Stan Parente Salon in Bellevue. The salon is her first client in Bellevue and will begin its mailers this summer. - Nat Levy, Bellevue Reporter
Peggy Gerber at Stan Parente Salon in Bellevue. The salon is her first client in Bellevue and will begin its mailers this summer.
— image credit: Nat Levy, Bellevue Reporter

Peggy Gerber loved the view.

After spending much of her life in Indiana and Texas, she wanted something different. She visited Puget Sound a few times to see family and it was evident this was the place for her.

Only one problem: Gerber had three kids to put through school back in Indiana. She made a pact: when the youngest graduates from high school, she is out of there.

That happened last year and Gerber packed up everything she could fit into a 6 x 10 trailer, grabbed the family dog and headed west.

When someone settles into a new area there are a lot of ways one becomes entrenched in the community. Gerber, a new resident of North Bend, took a unique outlet. She started a business.

She purchased a franchise of Welcome Mat, a company that tries to connect new residents with local businesses through mailing offers. She invested $50,000 to make the move and the franchise purchase happen, but the former executive said the business was primarily a means to enter the market.

“It’s a way to get me here; it’s something I know I can do,” she said.

Gerber isn’t bothered by the extra workload that comes with small business ownership, as she regularly put in 60 hours a week at her former job.

Her franchise territory covers much of the Eastside, including Bellevue, Issaquah and Redmond. The company obtains information such as change of addresses at banks, cable companies, etc., and then sends mailers with offers, such as discounts at restaurants, to the new residents.

“What really makes this successful is the new person who moves to a community is nobody’s customer,” Gerber said.

Businesses pay approximately $1 per piece of mail sent out. They choose which zip codes to target.

Stan Parente salon in downtown Bellevue is preparing to send out mailers with Welcome Mat later this summer. Aaron Parente, assistant to the owner, said the Bellevue Way salon recently received a big renovation and business is really starting to pick up. Now is the time to make a push for new customers, and Parente thinks going after new residents will help build regular customers, rather than the one-off visitors that often come from daily deal promotions.

“We want to get a new long-time client in and build a relationship,” Parente said.

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