AlbemarleFamily knows the “mom market” in Charlottesville. Its interactive, calendar-driven web site helps parents with everything from setting up playdates to finding a pediatrician. The site now gets more than a millions hits a month from 60,000 unique visitors, 87 percent of whom are women.
The web site won a Parent’s Choice Award in 2004. Its growth has led to the creation of other ventures including a monthly magazine, an electronic newsletter, books and trade shows.
Robin Bethke, AlbemarleFamily’s co-publisher and creative director, began the web site in 1998 and added the magazine two years later. “When we first started this, Charlottesville was much more of a university-centric town,” she says. “Now its become a place where families are moving to raise young children. And I do think that by leveraging the Internet and tapping into the emerging ‘mom market,’ we’ve really contributed to that transition.”
One early visitor to the web site was Jennifer Bryerton, a former special education teacher who owned a tutoring business in Boulder, Colo. She was researching a possible move to Charlottesville. Bryerton eventually met Bethke and joined the firm as co-publisher and editor.
In fact, she says, a growing number of visitors to the web site are out-of-area parents thinking about moving to Charlottesville. “When you visit our site, you can learn alot about what it’s like to actually live here,” Bryerton explains.
In addition to running the web site, Bryerton and Bethke publish AlbemarleFamily magazine, a free monthly with a circulation of 10,000, and send a weekly electronic newsletter about upcoming activities to 4,000 subscribers.
Bethke and Bryerton-who are both mothers-have also expanded into trade shows. Their Fun Fair & Camp Expo, held each winter, offers a venue for summer camps, tutoring companies, private schools, orthodontists and other vendors. Another event, the MomExpo, was started this year in partnership with teh University of Virginia Health System. It offers educational seminalrs and shopping boutiques for pregnant women and new moms. Next year, the company will publish a resource book on area daytrips.
The company’s full-time staff has grown from two to 13. Bethke and Bryerton say they expect revenues – derived largely from advertising – to increase 30% in the next year.