Trace Augcomfar is on a mission to support Berkshire businesses, and smartphones are her weapon of choice.
“It’s a tech savvy society,” she said, “and it’s about time for Berkshire County to catch up.”
Her new app, BerkHub, is a resource for locals and travelers alike. More importantly, it’s a promotional platform for small businesses that have traditionally relied on foot traffic and word-of-mouth to bring in customers, and are now in danger of being left behind by an increasingly digital consumer base.
“I see a lot of great businesses tucked away down an alley, or not on the main street, that are really good businesses,” she said. “And they’re suffering, because they’re not on Main Street, USA. I think traffic doesn’t flow throughout the county or throughout the town, even on Main Street.”
Berkhub is a digital directory designed to steer users toward businesses they may have otherwise missed, especially if they’re relying on larger, national travel sites that emphasize the biggest, best-known destinations. “What I’ve done was remove the TripAdvisor, the Expedia, and do a micro market, where it’s specifically aimed to Berkshire County,” Augcomfar said. “The app offers equal and prominent visibility” to all participating businesses.
The app is more convenient and easier to navigate than a website, and is even functional offline — a boon for the many Berkshire businesses in areas with limited cell and data coverage.
Oskar Hallig, President of Only In My Dreams Events and The Shop in Egremont, was one of the app’s earliest and most enthusiastic supporters, to the point that he approached Augcomfar about joining before it was even launched. “We use apps for most things both personally and professionally nowadays! When I heard about BerkHub and that it was an app that featured all the wonderful things in the Berkshires we jumped at the opportunity to be part of it,” he said. “Both for locals and visitors looking for where to go, what to see, where to shop, having this digital resource is a huge benefit to our business as there is now an easy one stop place to see everything the Berkshires offers and being listed on the app will certainly help drive businesses the way of any company listed.”
A California transplant, Augcomfar was struck by the closeness of the Berkshire business community. “I moved here from Los Angeles, so the whole environment was different,” she said. “It’s more intimate. I can see literally everything that’s going on business wise around here.”
BerkHub is Augcomfar’s way of giving back to the Berkshire economy. “I’ve literally taken all my profits from during COVID to do this,” she said. “I had to put up or shut up, because of my desire to help the small businesses.”
BerkHub’s rates are more affordable than its national competitors, and customers with multiple businesses in Berkshire County can list all of their properties for no additional fee. Augcomfar also offers an additional 10% discount for businesses that accept BerkShares, part of her goal to keep profits flowing within the Berkshires.
“The bottom line,” she explained, “Is that this is a digital, easily accessible, unified front, for all Berkshire businesses, all Berkshire events, all Berkshire activities, to spread the wealth throughout the county.”