NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?
1. Famed bookstore crowd sources moving costs. The St. Mark's Bookshop, a famous New York City bookstore which was known as a hangout for literary figures such as Susan Sontag and William S. Burroughs, is turning to crowdsourcing to raise money for moving costs. The 35 year-old bookstore is looking to downsize to a smaller, more affordable rent space as the economic downturn, rise of online book buying and e-readers -- as well as spikes in its rent -- are making it difficult for the store to stay open in its current location, according to Crain's New York Business.
St. Mark's Bookshop launched a campaign on Wednesday night using Luckyant.com. It has put a goal of raising $23,000 in 25 days from supporters, but hopes to raise more than that. The goal was deliberately low because the startup crowdfunding site calls off campaigns that don't reach their goal. Supporters in return will receive gift cards and discounts at the store, the article says.
The store is also aiming to boost its online presence.This is not the first time Lucky Ant has helped a New York City small business raise funds for rent reasons. In May, it helped the Living Theatre raise $25,000 to keep it from being evicted from its Lower East Side location. 2. eBay explores ways to allow minors to open accounts. E-commerce retailer eBay (EBAY) is looking to specifically target an untapped buyer demographic -- children who are under 18 -- by allowing them to set up accounts, according to the Wall Street Journal. The main concerns are about privacy -- advocates worry about data tracking and targeted advertising commonly used with adult accounts -- and parental authorization is being considered by eBay as a solution, WSJ says. The site would also restrict minors from purchasing adult content and products. eBay would be part of a growing list of tech companies targeting minors, "who are an increasingly savvy and desirable consumer segment," the article says. It may move ahead on the plan within nine months, the WSJ reports. 3. Here's how to prevent a social media disaster. Small businesses can take a lesson from United Airlines (UAL) and the fallout from a customer's $3,500 guitar that was damaged by baggage handlers. After nine months of back and forth, the company refused to pay his claim and denied all responsibility. In response, the unhappy passenger created the "United Breaks Guitars" video and posted it on YouTube. The video now has 12 million views. It's a cautionary tale for businesses that are slow to acknowledge the impact of social media and incorporate it into their customer service strategy, says The New York Enterprise Report. Avoid social media disasters by preventing them in the first place. The article suggests that businesses use other tactics to improve customer service and social media reputations such as empowering employees to think and act like owners of the company, monitor what customers are saying online and be proactive by responding to a customer's questions and complaints. "Customer interactions used to be one-on-one; now, they are one-on-many," the article says. "Your customers are on social media sites and they're talking about you. What kind of stories are they telling? Treat your customers well and they will encourage others to buy from you. Treat them poorly and they can ruin your business." -- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York. To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com. To follow Laurie Kulikowski on Twitter, go to: http://twitter.com/#!/LKulikowski >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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