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The Riverdale Press
Thursday, January 2, 1997

By Marina Lakhman

For Barbara Tallerman, the Bronx is a little world unto itself and just as divided. The Riverdale resident sees the borough as including many disparate communities whose knowledge of one another is often limitd and contact minimal.

But Ms. Tallerman hopes to change all that with the Bronx Mall, a World Wide Web site that is trying to bring together businesses, cultural institutions and officialdom on one computerized spot.

"I want to bring the internet to the Bronx," said the Johnson Avenue resident. "I think [the internet] will be the acknowledged form of communication in a short time."

The site would highlight the borough's storied past as well as publicize future events.

The Bronx Mall, which premiered in November, comes on the heels of several recent Bronx internet ventures, including the Bronx's home page for tourism and Borough President Fernando Ferrer's web site.

Unlike the other ventures, the Bronx Mall would like to be all things to all people - a resource for people looking to try some of the Bronx's fare and for businesses loking to attract customers from other neighborhoods.

And the key to getting the borough aboard the World Wide Web is getting the businesses involved, she said.

"The Bronx Mall is for anyone who wants to expand their business," Ms. Tallerman, who operates Trend Track, a Riverdale-based data processing service, said. "And get into the net in a local way."

The Bronx Mall business page, which has categories ranging alphabetically from advertising to travel and tourism businesses, charges businesses $125 for a page on their site for three months.

There are presently 30 businesses represented on the site, but the numbers are growing quickly.

Ms. Tallerman hopes to convince the owners of mom-and-pop shops, who often lack computer skills, that their businesses would benefit from exposure on the internet. She also called the Mall a lesson in a different type of advertising.

"I'm sure that the mom-and-pop stores never imagined being global," said Howard Offenhutter, another Riverdalian who is producing the venture.

According to Ms. Tallerman, there are no coupons screaming out of the computer screen. Rather, it is a "softer kind of sell than newspapers," she said.

Ms. Tallerman said that Bronx Mall is working with restaurants to put their delivery menus on the Web. That way Riverdalians' palates could be tempted with cuisine as far as 161st Street without leaving their home.

But in the internet business, attracting advertising can only be a reality if you can attract people to the site. And the people will not come unless there is something for them to see.

"We're trying to give people a reason to visit and give businesses a reason to advertise," Ms. Tallerman said.

Thus far, the Bronx Mall has brought into their fold the Riverdale Rotary Club and a class at PS 23 in the Belmont section of the Bronx. A Riverdalian who teaches at the school had his students write letters to President Bill Clinton when he was re-elected. The Bronx Mall posted the letters on the Web and the responses from President Clinton.

Ms. Tallerman's involvement in the internet snuck up on her three years ago when her clients began to ask her about the Web and how she thought they could utilize the technology. So she decided to find out herself.

After Ms. Tallerman joined a New York-based computer users' group and heard presentations from people who were already using the internet, the idea for Bronx Mall was born.

And Mr. Offenhutter said that the future of Bronx Mall may be in bringing the globe to the people of the Bronx.

"First we're going to make it into an all-inclusive directory of the Bronx," said Mr. Offenhutter. "But we're talking about venturing out to other boroughs and bringing the people of the Bronx the outside world."

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