At the beginning of 2018, the Rockaway Business Alliance (RBA) launched Rockaway ConneX, a two-prong technology project funded by NYC Department of Small Business Services to respond to challenges of connectivity in Rockaway. The first prong of Rockaway ConneX involves beacon and QR code technology, which facilitates access to relevant information about local businesses, events, specials, Rockaway history, and more.
The second prong of Rockaway ConneX involves marketing and tech support for Combrr, an iOS application conceived by locals, Justin Harter and Matt Blance-Stephany. Combrr allows users to browse menus of local eateries and shops, place items into a cart, check out with a selfie, and have goods delivered to their exact location, without ever having to leave their beach towels.
New York is a city whose natives have become accustomed to being able to access anything they want in the moment that they want it—coffee at 10 p.m, beer at 8 a.m, dinner at 5 a.m. — why should this stop at the beach? For years, the economy has been trending towards e-commerce, and Combrr caters to this trend, while simultaneously supporting local brick-and-mortars.
The recent beach closure announcements are devastating to our local businesses, which have built their businesses and lives around this particular stretch of beach. The last-minute nature of these announcements gave Rockaway businesses, which have been anxiously awaiting beach opening and the busy season, little time to rescale and restructure. Combatting the recent news of the NYC Parks Department’s decision to close a large section of the most popular beach in Rockaway, Combrr provides a real-time solution for Rockaway businesses, effectively allowing businesses to reach the huge influx of beach visitors.
Many business owners are concerned that their sales will decline, and are unsure of ways to capture the beachgoers. Combrr founders are working directly with these business owners to solve this problem — Rockaway Beach isn’t closed. There are so many amazing culinary avenues to explore, from arepas and ceviche to burgers and hot dogs.
In the spirit of accessing relevant information, the Rockaway Business Alliance aims to use Rockaway ConneX to promote the idea that Rockaway is Open for Business. Along the lines of NYC Parks’ “change of access” messaging, we hope to suggest that there are four miles of beach open for public enjoyment, you can get your food and beach needs delivered right to your towel, and this is going to be the best summer yet for Rockaway business!
Combrr delivers Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. with plans to operate seven days a week beginning in July.
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