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Alex and I got to work with William Azaroff eight years ago (good lord! eight?!) on Vancity‘s ChangeEverything. We became friends, and I became a fan of William’s impressive online smarts. So when he announces an online project for Vancity, my ears prick up so fast it makes my chin hurt:

Recently, a project I’ve been working on for the past few months with some brilliant and capable colleagues launched as a test and learn pilot in Victoria, BC. The project is called Localty, because what else are you gonna name a loyalty program focused on local purchasing?

Localty is a mobile web platform connecting our members and the public to discover Vancity business members, and encourage them to promote these local businesses via social media and to shop locally. We want to encourage more people to steer some of their purchases away from multi-national chains and big box stores to small, local businesses.

Localty looks like a fascinating project, and one with room for growth. You could picture, say, a Yelp Monocle-style feature. Or a mashup that would tell you the nearest local alternatives to the chain store in front of you. (As I think about it, that second one might work better as a third-party app, if Localty gets to the point where they offer an API.)

I’m glad to see projects that promote local businesses. (A quick hello to the Ten Percent Shift folks, who will probably be looking at this with interest.) They offer some hope that our retail future is a lot brighter and more diverse than big-box monoculture.

(And on that point, maybe you could say the same thing about web versus mobile apps.)

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