Approximately 2 hours west of Massachusetts, in a small community of some 12,000 residents, a local REALTOR® is growing her business by turning local artists and creative entrepreneurs into mini-celebrities.
Loretta Tremblay of Greene Realty Group in Winsted, CT, is profiling local artists and small business owners on her Winsted Neighborhood Website. To date, 30 of Winsted’s most talented and passionate artists and entrepreneurs have agreed to her self-produced interviews.
The candid interviews, featured on her Parkbench Neighborhood website, are shared on her social media as well. Tremblay, a mother of 2 who has lived in Winsted for 12 years, considers her interviews a great way to raise awareness and support among local residents for the home-bred talent and ingenuity that, all too often, go overlooked by mainstream media.
As she explains:
“Whiting Mills, an artist community (studio co-op for artists) gets the least attention. So I sent messages on Facebook and booked interviews through my Parkbench website. The majority of people in the building responded and they gave me referrals to other artists who would benefit from the exposure.”
Tremblay, who serves on the Winsted Farmers’ Market Steering Committee and as Chairman of the Winchester Energy Commission for 9 years, was initially concerned about her reception among local artists. Despite her lack of journalism experience, she discovered that her interviews were a great way to build relationships as well.
Referring to her experience, she says:
“I thought I was going to be rejected but even the no’s wanted to reschedule. There was definitely a learning curve to this but it gave me a lot of confidence. During our conversations, I was able to learn about them, talk about me, and build rapport. They all were struggling to get traffic in through the door at the Whiting Mills Building. Some were struggling to network and weren’t reaching out to each other. The interviews helped them. Now I feel like I’m promoting my friends, not just some strangers who live in my neighborhood.”
Winsted Woes: A City In Recovery
Many of the artists, craftspeople and professionals Tremblay features – Whatever Comes To Mind, Tina’s Basket & Woven Art, Morningstar Studio, Airborne Creations, and Timothy Forry Art, to name just a few – consider themselves entrepreneurs as well as artists. But in a town struggling to recover from a 2014 embezzlement scandal, decaying infrastructure, and a painful shortage of good-paying jobs, self-employment is almost a necessity.
Tremblay credits much of the support she’s received to Winsted’s Chairman of Economic Development, Phillip Allen:
“Phillip helped get the word about the interviews. He’s working hard to get us out of the economic slump. There was a major flood in 1950’ that drove businesses out but he has been dedicated to revitalizing the local economy. About 6 years ago there was a gradual beginning of a shift in attitude among residents. People began to realize that the community needed to fend for itself.”
Parkbench, Where Community-Minded Realtors Come Together
In addition to hosting her interviews, Tremblay’s website serves as a digital hub of local information. News, event listings, property listings, a business directory, and even Groupon deals from local businesses are aggregated and updated daily on the site.
Built by Parkbench.com and powered by their proprietary technology, the Winsted Parkbench website is open to anyone who wishes to contribute content. Business owners can claim a free listing, add coupons, a logo, images, and promote their services directly on the site, free of charge.
So why would a real estate agent offer all this free? Even other agents are puzzled by her decision to help struggling local businesses, but Tremblay is clear about her motivation:
“A realtor in South Carolina reached out to me on Facebook and wanted to know why I use my website to promote others instead of my own business. I explained to her that you have to change your mindset. Stop thinking like a salesman and start thinking like a community advocate. Some agents don’t think of it that way because they focus on the transaction.”
Since Parkbench was launched in 2014, over 1000 community-minded realty professionals have joined the growing network as sponsors, or ‘local leaders’ for their community. Over 10,000 neighborhood websites have been built to date, and the company is on a mission to build 1 billion by 2020.
The Future of Winsted
Tremblay, whose real estate focus is relocations, would like to help people moving out of Connecticut or moving in find the best investment.
Referring to her relocation expertise, she explains:
“Residents living in coastal zones and wetland areas are more susceptible to seasonal flooding, which results in costly insurance. I’ve been flipping homes for 10 years so I know how to spot a good investment. By helping local businesses, I can support the initiatives that make Winsted such a great place to live and work.”
The Future of Winsted
As for her future plans, the bubbly and optimistic realtor® intends to keep interviewing as many businesses as possible. She hopes to encourage more business owners to utilize her neighborhood website while growing her business and supporting initiatives she believes in:
“I want to continue helping small business owners. I want to support the initiatives that are working and continue to be informed about the challenges. I want to make my voice heard and have input. It was inspiring speaking to the local business owners. At this time next year, I would like to have an assistant!”
Book An Interview
Contact Loretta Tremblay online to book your feature interview.
Are you a community-minded real estate agent? Claim your area on Parkbench today!