A Breckenridge, Colorado Company has come up with a kind of co-op, opt-in email service for local markets.
Blirp allows local businesses to register for a free basic package that enables them to send "unadvertised" special offers to their local subscribers. Blirp sends an email message to the subscriber with some random offers from local businesses, along with a link to the complete list of local offers.
Subscribers can choose to receive emails daily or weekly.
How is this different from Twitter? It's zip code targeted and subscribed to by people looking specifically for offers from local businesses.
The model has potential. I could see the host company (in this case Blirp), offering premium services, covering multiple and more targeted lists, as well as things like tracking services and access to data they develop as a consequence of offering the service.
The tricky part is creating demand on the part of the consumer. If someone is going to use something on a regular basis, they have to derive real value from it. A big part of the success of this experiment will be the quality of the offers and the merchants making them.