Courtney M. Hills

Courtney M. Hills
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Friday, June 30, 2017

Happy One Year Anniversary To Us And Thank You For Your Support Syracuse

This weekend marks the one year anniversary of Cuse Cheap! On July 1st, I had the realization I wanted to do more than just a regular blog and so I researched some ideas and on July 2nd, I posted for the first time after all the research was finished. I did Google searches, wrote down concepts and decided I was so excited that I did not want to waste time...I had found what I wanted to do and I wanted to share it now.

As a caregiver of a mom with Alzheimer's, I explored the possibilities of a caregiving blog or information about Alzheimer's. I decided quickly though that there were others doing this already and doing it well and I spend 24/7 caring for mom so I wanted something different...I wanted a mental escape of sorts.

Since approximately 2009, I have dabbled in blogging and social media and most of my stuff centered around Syracuse sports. Within many of those posts, there was always a desire to bring up other Syracuse topics I enjoyed. In fact, often times other than one blog post about Jonny Flynn that got picked up by CBS Sports website, some of my more popular posts seemed to be when discussing local products or businesses.

This time around I wanted to combine that with something different however....something more that people may enjoy or possibly benefit from if they took the time to read. I saw other cities where social media accounts advertised free or cheap things going on in the area and thought this might work if I combine it with promoting local businesses like I had in the past to some extent. and add my passion for this area and the people in it.

Over the years, I had constantly heard and saw online many who complained about the worst aspects of Syracuse. (i.e. it's too expensive, nothing to do, crime downtown, rude people, etc)  And while I am not ignoring many of those complaints (because many have valid complaints), I wanted to show that there were many positive aspects of the community. Many of those negatives are not just a Syracuse problem but a society problem and I felt like I wanted to make a positive difference.

In my experiences over the years, I learned of some great businesses throughout Syracuse and Central New York that I felt deserved some love and some business owners or social media representatives, I had interacted with and felt comfortable with. I also knew there were many small businesses who may offer some great personality to the area but maybe do not have the advertising budget that some national corporations might have and deserved a spotlight as well.

So I started thinking I would occasionally post deals when I saw them in bunches and do profiles on businesses. After a couple months, I started to realize I should change my "business model" and concentrate on social media and use the blog to still supplement that with profile posts and maybe do special features like brunch options, kids deals or happy hours. So I opened Twitter, then Facebook and then Instagram with the purpose of sharing information I shared there that need not need a full post as well as retweet or share posts I saw to spread more information for people to see. We also update our profile pictures on those platforms monthly with pictures of local businesses to help show them off as well.

What I also found was more access to other businesses, some of which I learned about myself doing this. I want you to drive down James Street or Erie Blvd and look at all the businesses (well not while you are actually driving...please watch the road first and foremost) and now imagine trying to help promote all small businesses in the area and you see one of my hurdles yet blessings doing this project. Yes, often times if you follow me you will see many of the same businesses repeated because they do offer great deals but I am always looking for other small, locally owned businesses to share deals with as well. I want to show people who live in the area or visit some of the great places that make Syracuse such a great community.

I also thought what a great way to show those people who say there is nothing to do all the fun options that exist throughout Syracuse and CNY.  Fine, this may not be Vegas or NYC but you can have fun doing many things if you open your mind up to the possibilities. Things like museums, libraries, community centers plus local charities, schools and churches who offer a chance to give back or help others as well as keep you busy and make the community a better place.

Let me also clarify my stance on things as well while I am doing this. I do not hate corporations or chains. I realize they have their place and I use them myself from time to time as well. However do I really need to tell you about the dollar menu at fast food restaurants or foot long sub deals at Subway or how cheap well known groceries stores are? I think we all know this already. What you may not know those is what many local places offer that often time is comparable to them or offers a deal occasionally worth exploring.

For example, suppose you live in Cicero and you need to save money so you head to the Wal Mart here. I won't judge you but I would like to point out that within the same area you also have places like Speras and Green Planet Grocery that have specials or offer healthy or fresh alternatives as well that maybe you could explore as well. And sure, Pizza Hut or Domino's have great deals but do does Toss 'N' Fire Wood-Fired Pizza as well as Paladino's Pizza. I am not trying to stop you from shopping anywhere but simply show there are local alternatives that can often still help you financially and in return help local businesses and businesses owners who live among us in the community. Take a look at businesses like Tully's, Dinosaur BBQ, Herb Phillipson's or Hofmann's that continue to grow in the area and for some outside of CNY as well and realize we as consumers can help other local businesses grow as well which produces more local jobs as well as money that stays in the community more.

One last thing about the businesses I share I want to say: taste is subjective. I may share a deal somewhere and people may not like it but there are others who might. We all have different styles, different things we want out of life and different taste buds so what you may not like someone else may enjoy. I personally like to keep my mind open and I do not care if you are a dive bar/ neighborhood bar or a fine dining restaurant...if there is something appealing about your business, I want to try it.

Having said all of that, I want to say thank you. I swear to you I could not do any of this without the support we have received from people and businesses. I came close to closing this thing down last year but my girlfriend (now a partner in this endeavor ) as well as others encouraged me to keep going for it and people seemed to like what I was doing. I get messages from people who have a deal I should share and I love that not because I am lazy but because I can't always see everything and I want this to be about the deals and businesses and not me. I am not here to do anything but give myself a distraction and do my best to help others if I possibly can to make life better. My priority is to care for my mother so sometimes I may have an off day or two trying to keep up or posts like this may take me hours to complete as I try to fit it into my schedule and ensure she has my undivided attention and care as needed so I thank you for your patience and understanding during those times.

I believe Cuse Cheap is a great way to help both customers find brands and deals they may like and companies find maybe some customer who otherwise maybe would not have stopped there. Maybe someone sees a special somewhere they never thought to try or thought to be too expensive but they try it and love it. Maybe they plan further visits for special occasions or change their routine to include that business regularly now because that food or customer service was so good that they can't resist and all because that one time some special caught their eye.

I also hope to soon be moved back to Syracuse (for those who not know, yes I am doing this from North Carolina with the hopes to move mom and I back near family and friends ASAP) and find more ways to make this a better tool for people to utilize and enhance your lives even if it's just the ability to find a meal when you only have $20 to last you a couple days until the next payday. Or maybe we share some local charity event and you can make a an Alzheimer's caregiver, I have seen first hand how much we can all make a difference and encourage it whenever possible (including the CNY Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association).

Thank you once again and I hope you will enjoy growing with us and helping to show why Syracuse and Central New York may not be perfect but it has many things to be proud of and many local businesses offering deals or products you will enjoy. Please feel free to tell your friends and your local business about us and tell them we want show the positives in the community and make a difference.

Life is tough sometimes but we are tougher when we spread love and positive energy and help each other find ways to improve our lives and I refuse to just sit back and complain when maybe, just maybe I can help someone even if it's just a couple dollars here or there or with simple gestures and kind words. Want Syracuse to be better? Let's make it better one person at a time and highlight the things that make Syracuse and Central NY great! Turn off the news sometimes and see there is more around you than the crime and political disputes that surround us. Let's support each other and make residents and tourists proud to be here. We can only grow and make a difference with your support and I hope we all continue for many more years to come and somehow make your day better.


"If it's a fun time and/or a good deal you seek;

We'll help you find your way around CUSE CHEAP! "


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