One Capital Region company is making new homeowners’ transition into their new digs and neighborhoods a little bit smoother—and in the process, helping to boost the local economy. Welcome Home Greetings hooks up new homeowners with an in-house greeter, who shows up at your doorstep with a free baskets filled with gifts, coupons, discounts and information about local businesses. The service is currently only available in Colonie and Guilderland but is looking to expand.
“I’ve moved around a lot in my life, so I have a passion [for this], because it’s hard when you move,” says Laura Switzer, Welcome Home Greetings’ Founder and CEO. Switzer knows all about what it’s like to be the new person in town. Her husband Mark has served as an executive at the Boy Scouts of America for years (currently, Scout Executive and CEO of the Twin Rivers Council in Albany), so the two have lived in many different parts of the country. “We were in Colorado before our last move [to Guilderland,] and I met a girl that was doing a welcome service there,” says Switzer. “Every time I’ve moved, it’s been hard to integrate in the community, and when this girl greeted me I thought, ‘This is the best idea ever.'” Switzer was a greeter in Colorado for a while, and when she and Mark moved to Guilderland in January of last year, she brought the idea of a welcome service with her, founding Welcome Home Greetings last March and starting personal home greets in June.
Switzer also found inspiration in Welcome Wagon, which has a similar business model to hers, and did in-house greetings between 1928-1998 across the country and Canada (the firm currently greets new homeowners through the mail with customized gift books). There are actually dozens of similar home welcome services throughout the US today, most privately owned, and even one global organization for professional home-greeters called Welcome Services International.
Welcome Home Greetings’ model doesn’t just build communities but helps grow them, too. “On the one hand, we’re welcoming people to the area, and on the other, we’re word-of-mouth marketing for the businesses that are in our basket,” says Switzer. Welcome Home Greetings delivers to around 50 newly sold homes every month in Guilderland and Colonie. The company’s baskets include some community information as well as a bevy of business information, each with a discount, coupon or special giveaway. “Most of the time, we actually get welcomed into the house, sit down with [the new homeowners] and go through each of the businesses in the basket individually,” says Switzer. “And even if we don’t get into the homes, we still go through each business individually.”
Welcome Home Greetings just celebrated its one-year anniversary earlier this month and has plans of expanding into Clifton Park within the next six months to a year.
Though she’s also providing a service to the business community, Switzer says she really does it to help people connect and feel comfortable in a new location. She recalls one home she recently visited: “I had my basket and I was barely getting out of my car when this lady and her kid came running at me, hugging me, almost [with] tears in their eyes, because they’d just moved here, and they were lonely. That’s really why I do it.”