Shopping small goes big-time 

YO! app brings awareness to local businesses. Photo by Molly Burke / The Jambar

By Molly Burke

Discovering the unique collection of businesses in Youngstown just got easier with a new app available for download. The YO! City app is a free rewards system for shopping locally, allowing users to earn discounts at businesses across the area.

Youngstown’s Economic Action Group launched the app in July 2021. Daniel Bancroft, program manager at EAG explained the app and how to sign up. 

“Users download the app, link their card and whenever an app user goes to one of those businesses and uses their credit card to pay they earn points for shopping there,” Bancroft said. 

The app supports 137 businesses, many of which are located on or near YSU’s campus. Some of these include the Arms Family Museum, The Butler Institute of American Art, Cassese’s MVR, Charlie Staples Bar-B-Q and StoneFruit Coffee Co.

YO! also uses a currency called city bites. One city bite is equal to one dollar and they can be redeemed at 25 businesses on the app. Users can receive five free city bites when signing up, and 10 free bites by referring a friend.

In addition to making shopping more affordable, Bancroft said the app can help people who want to discover more about Youngstown’s businesses and culture.

“There’s so much out there to explore – so many different cultures that we have here, so many great restaurants, coffee shops, little retail shops,” Bancroft said. “It’s great for really getting to know your community.”

Students that live at Youngstown State University or spend long hours on campus have begun using the YO! app because it makes discovering new places more accessible and affordable.

Junior history major Gabe Vass-Gal talked about why she uses the YO! app and encourages other students to try it out.  

“It’s really tough to be able to stay on campus to get everything you need and want, but there are experiences and events on the app as well that you don’t know about,” Vass-Gal said. “There are a couple vintage boutiques in Youngstown that I had no clue about and I’ve gone to a couple of them and they’re really nice.” 

Mike Cupp, owner of the Youngstown StoneFruit location said there are benefits to partnering with the YO! App.

“Everyone is looking to save money here and save money there, and typically with any business, a rewards program costs a good amount of money, and so for us it was a no-brainer to get involved because it doesn’t cost us any money and it just helps out all around,” Cupp said. 

As a small business owner, Cupp said he appreciates the positive impact the YO! app has had on StoneFruit and the growing scene of entrepreneurship in Youngstown.

“When someone comes here and buys something from us, it doesn’t just stay here. Our money is spent here. A lot of our baked goods we get locally from different local businesses as well,” Cupp said. “The moment you walk in here, you’ll see, we know everybody that comes in here. So, it helps grow Younsgtown.”

Senior biological sciences major Shreeya Manandhar is a marketing intern with EAG. She said working with the YO! app has allowed her to make a change in the area.

“I think it’s a great opportunity. You get to be a part of development around Youngstown,” Manandhar said. “Students can be part of those businesses and there can be more economic action.”

For those interested, the YO! app can be downloaded on the Apple and Google app stores.