Thursday 14 Aug 2008
From mountains to valleys to sea coast, cities to suburbs to tiny towns, Sonoma County, California encompasses tremendous variety for the hyperlocal blogger. If you have determined to begin writing about your corner of the world in order to the gain greater visibility for your business on the web, you will not lack for materials if you’re simply paying attention to the place you call home.
Write about the positive, eco-friendly spirit of Sebastopol, the negative draining of the watershed by Sonoma’s endless vineyards or the roller coaster housing prices in Santa Rosa. Write about the hospitals disappearing, one by one, leaving Sonoma County in desperate shape when it comes to medical care. Or write about the wealth and gaiety of the millions of tourists who motor down HWY 12 every fall, and whether or not their spending is really trickling down to the typical local family. Write about the last of the real old-time farmers out in West Petaluma or the struggles of brand-new Americans, arriving here from Mexico and filling the community with new color, commerce, language and life. Write about the fabulous state and regional parks and don’t forget your camera! And, don’t forget to gear your articles in a way that encourages conversation and tempts readers to return to your blog for further great reading and a better acquaintance with you – the hyperlocal blogger.
Before moving on with today’s post, be sure you’ve read the first article in this series, HyperLocal Blogging in Marin County, California. Let’s do a quick summary of the 5 SEO Copywriting Tips contained in that article.
5 excellent approaches you can take to blogging about your hometown include:
1) Tapping into the hometown pride
2) Recognizing community concerns
3) Being an ambassador
4) Getting into local controversy – with care
5) Getting down to business – your business
Today’s special tip for Sonoma County Hyperlocal Bloggers is this:
Do You Remember?
Few other types of conversation set such a natural spark of conviviality in a group as easily as the discussion of happy memories. There is something about humanity that loves to reminisce. All you need to do is ask your audience if they remember something pleasant, and they will want to jump in with their personal recollections. What follows is my list of 10 Do-You-Remember blog post topics, specifically for Sonoma County bloggers.
1. The Glen Oaks Dairy
Do you remember this place on Yulupa Avenue in Santa Rosa? The little drive-through dairy where the boy behind the counter would put a wire crate of dairy products in your trunk for you? If you were a kid back then, chances are, you remember the Push-Ups – those fruit-flavored frozen yogurt bars decorated with vivid pictures of fruit. The Glen Oaks dairy was a neighborhood institution and I know my family was really sad when they closed their doors in the 80s.
2. Thirty-five Cent Ice Cream At Thrifty’s
Remember the ice cream counter at the old, friendly Thrifty’s? Remember looking through the glass at those frosty bins of rainbow sherbet, mint chip and chocolate malted crunch? Sugar cone or plain? Only 35 cents for a single scoop. 65 for a triple! Did you ever eat a triple scoop ice cream cone at Thrifty’s?
3. Hanging out at StarSkate in the 70s
Were you one of the cool kids shooting-the-duck while the DJ spun Funky Town? Remember skating endlessly through the mysteriously dark outer space landscape in the disco ball lights at this roller rink on the west end of Santa Rosa? Did you go up to the snack bar and order a ‘suicide’ – a mix of every soda pop on tap – knowing your mother would flip if she knew you were slurping down that much sugar? Did you own your own skates back then, or did you have to rent those stinky ones from the rink?
4. The Vanished Glory of Rosenberg’s
Sonoma County women have never recovered from the loss of this last, gracious department store in the area. Located in downtown Santa Rosa, Rosenberg’s had everything from baby clothes to housewares. It was the place to spend your money and you spent it with pleasure because the store was so elegantly kept and staffed. Remember riding the little elevator up to the mezzanine? Remember the Christmas displays in the windows – just like in a big city? Because, of course, back then, Santa Rosa was anything but big. Don’t you miss that small town feel? We got THE MALL and the dubious gift of Ross when Rosenberg’s closed up shop…few people felt this was a very good trade-off. What do you think?
5. The Big Yellow House
The huge Victorian-esque edifice still stands their like a lost giant amid the freeway sprawl of Northwest Santa Rosa, but who remembers when this structure went up to harbor that family-style restaurant – The Big Yellow House? Yes, it was bright yellow back then, too. Remember the motherly ladies in aprons, coming to your table with kettles of beans and heaps of cornbread? You felt kind of fancy dining there, didn’t you? This was a place for taking grandma out to dinner and trying not to spill your milk. Remember your manners. Why did they go out of business? Does anybody know?
6. The Buttercup Pantry
Another bygone restaurant on the Sonoma County landscape. I believe this was located way out Stony Point Road, near Cotati, wasn’t it? My parents thought the food here was awful, I’m afraid, but we children begged to go back because of one very clever element this restaurant had going for it – the glass counter full of lollipops. Every color of the rainbow, and one for every good kid. Who could care what you’d eaten for dinner, so long as the meal ended with one of those tempting suckers?
7. The Shoestore in Montgomery Village With the Merry-Go-Round in it
You’ve got to remember that! While the whole family got sized up for new school shoes (remember waffle stompers?) or summer Sun-glo sandals, the children could hardly wait to ride on the little merry-go-round built right into the carpet in the middle of this memorable shoe store. What a brilliant gimmick for ensuring that parents didn’t have to cope with whining kids while shopping.
8. Sprouse-Reitz 5-and-10 Store
I know there was one of these in Bennett Valley and another in Sebastopol. Sprouse-Reitz had everything from fabric to tropical fish. And everything was so affordable. Believe it or not, I have a jewelry box that still bears a Sprouse-Reitz price tag – only $1.95! I have the happiest memories of getting paper dolls and Colorforms here, inexpensive treasures. Dish towels, camping lanterns, Easter basket grass…what couldn’t you get at Sprouse-Reitz? Sorry, but those Dollar Store chains that came along later are only cheap imitations of the real thing. Out of curiosity, did your family call stores like this five and tens or five and dimes?
9. Old-time Coddingtown
Remember Hickory Farms with those pretty strawberry candies in the red foil wrap and the huge boxes of processed cheeses and sausages? Remember the brown and white cow statue stationed outside of it? Remember the Emporium? You could even eat lunch there in the palm-frond papered cafeteria. I remember their pretty pink ladies’ restroom. It had carpet in it! Remember the cigar ‘Indian’ in front of the tobacco shop? I felt a little scared of him. And remember the fabulous fabric stores? There was a House of Fabrics on one edge of the Coddingtown mall and all of the Sonoma County was peppered with totally amazing, beautifully-run fabric shops. Oh, how I miss those. Oh, how mad I feel every time I have to go into the dim, disorganized and poorly-stocked Jo-Anns that is all we have left today. Pardon my sighing.
10. Fireworks 3 Times Every Summer
Did you come to Santa Rosa for the annual county fair? My gosh, that was exciting. Do you remember the Pan Puffs and Rosettes stand with those powder sugared bits of deep-fried deliciousness? How about the Mackinac Island fudge counter with that maple walnut fudge in the brown and white rectangular box? Do your remember the booth in the main pavilion where you would give the attendant a dollar and then draw a card from a file telling you which little glass animal you’d won? Did you go on the Super Loop, the Tobaggon or the Zipper? Did you get sick to your stomach? And best of all, summer in Sonoma County back then meant 3 fantastic fireworks displays. One for the opening and closing of the fair and one for the 4th of July. And now, fireworks are illegal in most of the county. Things sure have changed.
My hope is that the above 10 ideas will start you thinking of others. Whether you’re blogging for your real estate firm, your event planning business or your dog grooming shop, writing about the cherished past not only proves your solidity as a real native but it also has the potential to get your readers into a very good mood. And who will have given them that pleasant glow of memory? You. Entertain and engage your neighbors and plan to start doing business with them when they want the goods and services you offer in addition to your good writing.
Tune in again soon for further SEO copywriting tips for your hyperlocal blog from Solas Web Design.