By Shanna Fujii
Roosevelt Row is known for its elaborate and expressive art. Something else it’s known for? Its warm and heightened sense of community. In this interview series, the highlighted businesses are not chosen because of their physical location in Roosevelt Row, but because they positively impact or help develop the community. 850zip is one of these businesses.
Kathey Wagner founded 850zip in November of 2016. 850zip, a hyper-local loyalty program designed to reward community members for supporting local businesses, was born to create stronger neighborhoods and communities by magnifying the importance every individual makes on the economic vitality and social infrastructure of society.
There are currently over 150 businesses that have joined the 850zip movement and in a few months, the program will hit 1,000 community members. We interviewed Wagner to learn more about 850zip and how it aims to grow the Phoenix community.
How does 850zip work?
850zip is a hyper-local loyalty program for people who work, live, and play in the downtown area of Phoenix. It’s aimed towards promoting locally owned businesses and getting people to know about businesses that help the community and encourage them to help the community themselves. Business members can join 850zip for free and community members pay $20 per year to unlock exclusive loyalty rewards and VIP services.
Is there a criteria 850zip uses to approve business members?
Business members need to be located in the Phoenix area and needs to be locally and independently owned. We are open to all types of businesses. We have restaurants, bars, boutique shops, and professional services such as attorneys, consultants, and accountants that have all elected to become a part of 850zip.
How do the loyalty rewards work for community members?
Each business has a unique offering for our community members that give them recognition for being community-minded. This offering can be anything from a discount on an item or it could be a specialty product or VIP service. Community members can show their 850zip chip or online account to these businesses in order to receive their loyalty rewards or discounts.
Why did you start 850zip?
We are a B Corporation.* There are less than 12 in the state of Arizona. We have a triple bottom line focused on people, planet, and profit. We reinvest our profits in selected local non-profits and increased marketing for our business members. In 2018, 850zip was awarded Best for The World Honoree as a B Corporation. We really want to build a legacy and help promote local businesses. I tell people 850zip is how I do my giving and I produce my living by being a business strategist.
*“Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, supplies, community, and the environment.”
Why do you think building a legacy is so important?
I’ve lived in downtown for 20 years. I’ve seen the growth in Phoenix and have also seen what happens to businesses when they don’t have sustainable marketing or a presence in the marketplace.
850zip helps local businesses understand the power of sustainable marketing and provides them with a bigger voice among corporate entities or large conglomerates. We want to help families fulfill their dream of owning a business, as well as, helping people who are moving to Phoenix feel more connected to the community.
What is one way 850zip helps people feel more connected to their community?
If you look at our logo, you’ll see the word “volunteer.” We want people to put their hands and hearts within the community through volunteering. Not everyone knows where to find volunteer opportunities they’re passionate about. They want to feel more connected to the people they live with or live by, but there aren’t a lot of mechanisms for people to do that. So, we create (or promote or sponsor) events and provide opportunities for people to get involved and get to know the people around them.
Today, there’s so much distraction. People are busy, but they’re not really involved. But if you give them a little taste of what that feels like to be a part of something, they’re more apt to be engaged. It creates stronger neighborhoods and stronger communities.
How would you describe Phoenix’s community?
The thing about Phoenix is that it is very neighborhood driven. We are still a big city of small neighborhoods. If you go to each one of those communities, there is a distinct feel to each one.
Roosevelt has always been, in my mind, one of the top communities in downtown Phoenix. It has changed a lot in the past couple of years. It used to be primarily art galleries, but today, it’s become more of an art gathering. It’s very vibrant and there’s more of an infrastructure of places for people to gather.
For someone who has never been to Roosevelt Row, where is one place you think they should visit?
Ben’s Bells. Ben’s Bells is a non-profit and a member of 850zip. They have a herd of volunteers who make and hand paint these amazing bells in memory of their son Ben. They hang throughout the city and people will find them at random. When you find one, you can either take it or you can leave it for someone else to find. It brings so much joy to people and I love that! It’s definitely a place I recommend people to visit.
To join the powerful movement 850zip has created, visit https://www.850zip.com/.
ABOUT AUTHOR SHANNA FUJII
Shanna Fujii is a colorful wordsmith published on GoDaddy, Arizona Foothills, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and more. When she’s not busy adding spice to copy for clients, she’s checking things off her bucket list, running her philanthropic streetwear brand,Honey & Misfits, or writing and producing short films. She’s a french fry connoisseur and will never be caught without a pair of worn-in Converse. Connect with her on LinkedIn.