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A Traditional Store Embraces Social Media

You’d be surprised how social media can bring in new customers — and perhaps help you sell your products online. If you own a local business with one or a few locations, you might think, “Why bother with the Internet?” Well, wouldn’t some extra profit be a good idea?

Here is an example of the American dream: a family business that’s been successful for more than 65 years. Today, they are boosting sales through social media and their website.

David Ustin, the son of an immigrant, started working at a New York bakery at a very young age. One day, he overheard a union representative say that California had no good bagels. His entrepreneurial spirit took over, and he, two business partners, and his wife opened Western Bagel, the first bagel bakery in Los Angeles, in 1947. At their grand opening, they sold 4,773 dozen bagels, totaling $1,145.90!

The business moved in 1958 and they began a wholesale route, serving local restaurants and delis. They moved again in 1993 to a new factory, nearly doubling their production capacity. David’s son, Steve, who worked with his father during high school and college, bought out his father’s surviving partner and is now president of the company.

Today, Western Bagel has ten restaurants in Los Angeles, plus the old bakery. Steve Ustin has been true to the family’s entrepreneurial dream.

In early 2010, they put up the sign shown below. Perhaps Steve’s son, Brad, established the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Their restaurant locations also feature creative signage inviting customers to join them on the social media sites.

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On their Facebook page (shown in the figure), which has close to 7,000 likes, they regularly post bagel lore, news, luscious photos of their specialties, and luncheon deals. Customers can ask questions about their items, such as when the green bagels celebrating St. Patrick’s Day will be available. Comments about their stores and restaurants are posted almost daily.

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You can also find fans reviewing and complimenting their restaurants on Yelp (trending 5 stars). Western Bagel also has a presence on foursquare — one location alone has close to 700 check-ins to date!

Western Bagel has also enabled their website for e-commerce, as shown in the figure. So if you’d like to try one of the “Bagels that won the West,” visit their website and order some!

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Western Bagel has certainly embraced the best of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

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