By Stefanie Jackson – A new website by Eastern Shore native Sara Baldwin is ready and waiting for volunteers to sign up to help promote local entrepreneurs and provide visitors with an authentic and fulfilling travel experience.
Baldwin is known for New Ravenna, the luxury mosaic tile business in Exmore that she started in the early 1990s and ran for 25 years. Now she has moved on to another venture: Local Scoop.
Local Scoop defines itself as a website “for discriminating travelers with no patience for tourist traps.”
Baldwin wants visitors to come here and find local products and enjoy real Eastern Shore experiences, not limit themselves to chain restaurants, hotels, and cheap souvenirs.
She identifies with travelers who want to immerse themselves in the culture and traditions of the places they visit.
Baldwin took off about six months to travel and think about her next project after selling New Ravenna in 2017.
She visited Japan but was frustrated with how difficult it was to avoid tourist traps and “get to know Japan in an authentic way.” She finally found what she was looking for on the last day of her trip, when she met a friend of a friend, a Japanese man named Také who owned a store that sold only Japanese goods.
Over dinner, Také described his visit to a manufacturer of tiles and gargoyles for Japanese shrines, and Baldwin was fascinated, but there was no time for a tour, since she was leaving the next day.
That experience was one of the driving forces behind Local Scoop. Baldwin has found that travel websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp aren’t helpful to trip planners who want to really “get to know the heart and soul” of a place.
Authentic travel experiences also benefit the community because visitors are paying for local products and services.
“We hardly sell anything on the Eastern Shore,” Baldwin remarked, meaning most of the products and services of Eastern Shore industries are bought by consumers who live outside the region.
She calls it the “Robin Hood effect.” For example, New Ravenna has customers across the globe who purchase its luxury products, but it makes few sales on the Eastern Shore. Businesses like New Ravenna have little direct impact on the local economy aside from the wages they pays their workers, who in turn often spend their money in nationwide chains like Wal-Mart, Baldwin said.
Through the Local Scoop website, Baldwin aspires to be an “advocate for local businesses.”
She is looking for volunteers Local Scoop website “curators,” individuals with expertise on local tourism, recreation, art, artisans, aquaculture, agriculture, and more.
Local Scoop offers free promotion for Eastern Shore entrepreneurs, or “creatives,” as Baldwin calls them, and the experts who have the scoop on them. For an online curator, that includes a personal profile on Local Scoop and “lots of press,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin, who lives in Eastville and is most familiar with the Northampton and south Accomack areas, is open to anyone with experience in media, marketing, or a related field who wants to contribute content to Local Scoop. The greatest need is currently in the north Accomack and Chincoteague areas.
For more information on Local Scoop or to volunteer, contact Sara Baldwin by visiting www.localscoop.com and clicking on “Contact” in the upper right-hand corner.
This story was updated to the full version May 16.