Photographer wants to ‘Google-ize’ Bennington
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | April 08,2013
Patrick McArdle / Staff photo
Eric Wood, a local photographer, holds up the Google business listing for the Brown Cow Cafe outside the business on Friday in Bennington. Wood is trying to get all the town’s businesses to take part in the virtual tour which allows customers to visit a Bennington store online.
BENNINGTON — A local photographer is working with the town, the Better Bennington Corp. and the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce to “Google-ize” Bennington by getting a large number of businesses to take part in a program that allows people to virtually visit stores online.
The Google program, which has already been introduced in Rutland, allows online users to look inside a business. The user gets a 360-degree view of the business and can click through to look around or look more closely at items.
In Vermont, Eric Wood, a local photographer, became one of the earliest photographers associated with the program. Wood said on Friday that he knew many photographers who hoped to get businesses involved were working with the business owners themselves one at a time.
“That’s fine but what I wanted to do is I really wanted to make this a program that was unique for the town of Bennington. So the first place that I went ... is rather than go to the businesses, I went directly to (local business leaders) and I said, ‘I can do it and I want to do it more as an event in Bennington. I want to Google-ize the town of Bennington,’” he said.
Wood said he spoke with John Shannahan, executive director of the Better Bennington Corp., Michael Harrington, community and economic development director for the town of Bennington, and Joann Erenhouse, executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, about his idea.
“Everybody was of the same opinion. We didn’t want to do one business, two businesses, three businesses, we wanted to do the town,” Wood said.
To that end, the Better Bennington Corp., an organization that promotes and supports Bennington’s downtown, is already offering an opportunity for a limited number of businesses to sign up for the program at a reduced rate. Wood said this offer is limited to members of the BBC but a similar agreement is in the works for members of the chamber.
“We want this to be an event. We want every business to be in a position to be able to do this. ... We don’t want anybody to be left out. We want to make sure the entire town is on-board with this project and we want this to be something that no other town in Vermont has ever done,” he said.
There are already a few businesses in Bennington that can be visited online, including Fiddleheads at the Four Corners, the Brown Cow Cafe and the Elm Street Market, but Wood said the push will start in May to have as many other businesses as possible take part.
In a recent interview, Harrington said he hoped that potential visitors to Bennington would be attracted to the area by visiting the town virtually and being able to not only see pictures of the area but go inside its various businesses through the Google program. Harrington said he thought it would be a good tool for promoting the downtown in particular.
While Wood has worked with the chamber on marketing events, his effort to Google-ize Bennington is something he is pursuing as a photographer and not directly connected to the chamber.
For more information or to participate in the program, contact Wood through the website at www.GoogleBennington.com or send an email to Eric@ercwd.com