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Good news for the savvy shopper: designer duds and swanky nights out are becoming more and more affordable for those on a Shoestring budget. Through online coupon and private sale sites like Groupon and Beyond the Rack, thousands of people now have (practically unlimited) ways to save money on expensive and time-tested brands and luxury products.
But what about the little guys, the indie brands?
Jeremy Kugel and his wife, "avid shopper" Katrina, asked themselves this same question when they realized they were "no longer satisfied" with the mainstream shopping sites — and they set out to do something about it, founding Jasmere.com. We sat down with Kugel to pick his brain and find out what it takes to run a "mom and pop" private sale site.
WHY IS JASMERE DIFFERENT?
Maryland-based Jasmere.com is a hybrid freebie engine, daily deals newsletter, and members-only discount website. With the aim of highlighting the "thousands of unique, interesting sites that have wonderful products but no way to get the word out," Jasmere works on a unique group buy model: the more people who buy the featured daily product, the lower the price becomes for all. Jasmere doesn't charge its customers until the sale closes, ensuring that all customers pay the same price and get the same discount. The Kugels personally try out each and every product they sell, from start-up designer jeans to fair-trade coffee. Focusing on quality of product instead of how big a discount they can barter, Jeremy and his wife look for "entrepreneurs, discoveries, and green products," small companies, start-ups, and inventors who have great ideas and just need a little marketing help.
FIGHTING THE GOLIATHS
So how does a start-up private sale site that features start-up products find a way to be relevant in today's competitive internet market? It may not be as hard as we'd imagine: Kugel calls the internet "the great equalizer," as it is both the tool and the marketplace that has allowed Jasmere to rise quickly in popularity during its short time in existence, reaching out to buyers and sellers nationwide. Once upon a time, a small business would have to fight to get its name in the papers, but due to the "viral effect of social media," and the online communities of Facebook and Twitter users that Kugel and his team have built (Facebook fans of Jasmere can win free products every day!), Jasmere.com is able to attract as many as 3,000 new users to the site every day, proving that "if you have a good idea, it will spread fast."
Recently, Jasmere featured The Friendship Stone, a small company that gives 10% of its proceeds to charity and creates beautiful jewelry and gifts from African tiger's eye. Over the last month, Jasmere offered reusable glass straws from Strawesome, luxurious skin and pet care (Natural bug spray? Sign us up!) from SunFeather, humorous and adorable baby gifts by Wry Baby, and healthy, customizable cereal from Me and Goji.
What else do the Kugels have planned? The best way to get the scoop is to sign up.
Story: Copyright 2010, Shoestring LLC. Photo: Courtesy of Jasmere.com.