In a time where local Santa Barbara members are forced to shelter in place amid the rapid spread of COVID-19, being able to rely on one website for important information becomes much more crucial.
Knowing this, Axxess, a Santa Barbara and Ventura membership program for more than two decades now, stepped up to the plate and launched its Merchant Crisis Directory, a community based directory for any merchant to post their offerings during the current pandemic.
The directory can be found at www.localaxxess.com and currently has more than 160 merchants from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties with up-to-date information on items such as operating hours, discounts and delivery options.
“The thought was, how do we help our clients and even non-clients, local businesses, and help them get the word out as to what they’re up to? We have a pretty big reach compared to some of these other great organizations that are doing things so we just thought we could provide for the businesses and the community in general,” Karim Kaderali, CEO of Axxess, told the News-Press.
In a time where local businesses are doing everything to stay afloat, Mr. Kaderali said it was important for him — and Axxess in general — to lend a helping hand anyway they could.
Aside from simply creating the directory, there is also no charge for a merchant to add their information to the website.
“Everything we do is about good will and this was just an obvious opportunity,” Mr. Kaderali said.
“Even as we fell down to a skeleton crew, the three of us still working full time just thought about what we could do to help everybody. It’s not about us, we’re not gonna make any money
here but we’re in a unique position to help and we just came up with that really fast and pushed together.”
The directory itself took about a week to be implemented from first programming the site to then populating it with merchants that are already affiliated with Axxess and its membership program.
It cost some money, but Mr. Kaderali said he didn’t mind because “it was the right thing to do.”
The site has been live for more than 10 days and Mr. Kaderali said the response from the local merchants has been extremely grateful.
Even better says Mr. Kaderali is about half the listings are not even clients of Axxess.
“It has been cool to see that the word has spread so far and that it’s not just for people that we work with,” Mr. Kaderali said.
As businesses are pivoting, so is Axxess and the way it wants to help its clients. For example, it is trying to use its social media to help promote the merchants that it is working with, and overall is preparing for fall when its new membership comes out.
Mr. Kaderali said that there will be some new changes this year with the Axxess membership, an “evolved” membership that will be for the benefit of everybody.
“We are also hoping to have more options to bring on new businesses to leverage the access marketing platform for very little cost,” Mr. Kaderali said.
“Given this pandemic, We’re going to be marketing for businesses for very low fees, practically nothing, because they’re gonna need it, they’re not gonna have the funds.
“It might be tough in the short run for everybody, but in the long run it will work out for all of us and we are excited for that.”