Thanks to an innovative new mobile app, consumers in Lynbrook and East Rockaway can save money at local shops and eateries while supporting local businesses and charities. Cinch Wallet allows shoppers to pay using their cell phones and to save money when they do.
Richner Communications, which publishes the Herald, is the local force behind the project. “The genesis for Cinch came out of the idea of trying to strengthen local communities,” said Stuart Richner, the company’s president and co-publisher of the Herald. “We felt Cinch had the potential to keep money in the community — benefiting both residents and local businesses while building the fabric of the community. It aligns with what the Heralds have done for so many years.”
Richner teamed up with Cinch co-founders Marc Liebmann and Maya Komerov to produce Cinch Wallet for Long Island communities. Liebmann and Komerov were the perfect partners, Richner said, noting that they had the technology in place and understood the need to bolster local businesses. Cinch Wallet enables those businesses to compete with big -box and chain stores, Liebmann told the Herald, as well as online distributors such as Amazon, which, he said, have hurt local businesses around the country in recent years.
The Cinch Wallet app can be downloaded from either the App Store for IOS users or Google Play for Android users. Consumers then pre-load money with a credit card, onto the app, and it can be used at any participating Cinch businesses in Lynbrook or East Rockaway. There were 22 local businesses in those villages accepting Cinch payments as of press time, including restaurants, gyms and salons.
Each business offers savings for Cinch users. If a patron loads $100, it may be worth $110 at one establishment and as much as $130 at another. Businesses can also adjust what they offer from day to day. For instance, if an establishment wants to entice customers on weekdays, it can increase the bonus money it offers from Monday through Friday. “It’s as if each business has a different exchange rate for your money,” Liebmann said, “but in no case does the consumer ever lose. They always come out with added value.”
In addition, a percentage of every purchase is donated to a local charity or organization, such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Long Island Sled Hockey, a Lynbrook-based nonprofit league that enables those with disabilities to play the sport.
Liebmann noted that the app rewards residents for supporting local businesses. “If you’re a local customer, you should get a benefit for being local and shopping local, so we’ll do that through the wallet,” he said. “Businesses get increased promotion, new and repeat customers, and the ability to set pricing based on their traffic patterns.” He added that by controlling the pricing, businesses can “optimize their flow of customers.”
The technology is similar to what Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have implemented in the past few years, enabling customers to use their phones to pay. However, Cinch is used to help local businesses, not chain stores, and its users get more than their money’s worth.
Customers receive $10 in their wallet from Cinch when they sign up, as well as savings every time they use the app. Liebmann said that the free $10 is a way for users to learn about the app without having to use their own money.
Businesses, customers say Cinch is, well, a cinch to use
Cinch launched in Rockville Centre in May, and recently rolled out in Lynbrook and East Rockaway. It will soon be available for businesses in Long Beach. Though it is new to both areas, the app is already receiving rave reviews from consumers and business owners alike. “I love its convenience, especially when you don’t have to carry cash or even a credit card on you because you’re paying through your phone,” Lynbrook resident Shari Bowes said. “I love it because once you know you’re going out to dinner, why wouldn’t you want more money to spend at the restaurant?”
Business owners said they have also enjoyed using Cinch, because it helps with customer loyalty and is user-friendly. Rob DeMattia, a manager at McQuade’s Neighborhood Grill on Merrick Road, said that the fact that a portion of the proceeds goes to charity “was a big selling point for us.” He added that more and more people have been coming in and paying with Cinch.
“What’s nice about it is, they do local businesses and they’re not going that corporate route,” DeMattia said. “It seems to me like they’re doing more mom-and-pop -type places, so it’s nice in that regard that someone is doing something for the local small businesses.”
Susan Cassano, one of the owners of Lynbrook Massage Therapy on Broadway, cited the convenience of Cinch as a reason for supporting it. “I like the ease of use and the exposure that it gives to our business,” she said. “I think the fact that it is confined to the local area really helps people consider using the small businesses, the real local businesses.”
Liebmann and Richner both emphasized the importance of supporting local businesses. “We’re returning control of the money to the community,” Liebmann said, “rather than to the big businesses and the internet.”
“This is the ultimate in our quest to encourage local shopping,” Richner said. “It benefits the entire community — consumers, businesses and local causes. It’s a win-win-win.”