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Thread: Phone book a viable research tool for local businesses?

  1. #1
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    Phone book a viable research tool for local businesses?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm working on a gaps analysis of community efficacy for my masters in community and regional planning exit project. Two of the indicators I'm using require the percent of locally-owned businesses and percent of personal-services businesses (hair salons/barbers, coffee shops, etc) in the area. The area doesn't require business licenses unless they meet specific requirements. I can't really use the 2007 SBO since it was before the recession hit. Currently my thought is to use the phone book which I feel would be fine for the services indicator (I'm using these as informal meeting places anyway) but any suggestions on where to get locally-owned business listings?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Feb 1998
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    Greensburg, Kansas
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    Chamber of Commerce (limited listings)
    Polk's City Directory (becoming very unreliable)
    Social networks

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Chances are your university library has a subscription to Dun and Bradstreet or other business list service. You could also check with the local COG and see if they get that information from the state. Although the local city does not require a business registration they might require a health and safety inspection before a C of O is issued. If this is the case then they might have a list of C of O's? Other city sources could be the water department and get a list of commercial water meters. The other option would be to contact the state agency that handles business incorporation's and get a list of all existing businesses.

    Many companies do not use the yellow pages given the cost and more and more people use the internet to find businesses. If that is your only choice then go for it but that is a ton of data coding and no way to tell if it is locally owned.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I do a substantial number of market analysis projects, The reason I do not use reports from ESRI, Claritas, etc., is that the estimates they provide are so poor. One reason this is so is the reliance on information sources like InfoUSA. When you look at the individual records in their database and compare them to an actual observation of businesses in the community, you will find that some are double-counted, some are listed but have closed (some even for several years), and some that do exist are not in their database. I have found that up to a third of the businesses in a community are not in the database. One reason is that they are relatively new. The other reason is that the databases do a very poor job of identifying "mom and pop" businesses. Dun and Bradstreet directories are built on information submitted by businesses, so you will also find that they miss many local businesses.

    Short of doing a windshield survey, I have found the telephone book to be the best source of business listings. But by this I mean the actual book. The online directories seem to have more problems with outdated listings and missed businesses.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks everyone for the options.

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