Last year’s holiday market in downtown Stamford was a big success. The Women’s Business Development Council, which sponsors the market, planned to invite more of the women-owned businesses it supports year-round for 2020, but rising COVID-19 numbers make that impossible.
Small businesses rely on the kind of shopping experience considered most risky this year: in-person. Overall retail sales are expected to decline this holiday season, but one area promises to grow: online shopping. Online sales are expected to make up 14.5% of total retail sales in 2020, up from 11% last year, according to industry analyst eMarketer.
So the WBDC came up with a virtual marketplace that includes a list of Connecticut-based businesses with online stores. Shoppers can get the pop-up market feel without having to shop in person.
Fran Pastore, CEO of WDBC, is on a mission to help women-owned businesses survive and grow.
She recognizes that many shoppers have gotten used to ordering online during the pandemic lockdown but usually from larger chain stores. She’d like to see people step outside their comfort zone.
“And I’m not talking about your comfort zone with COVID, but if you’re used to going to an online major retailer,” Pastore suggests, “just see what a local business owner might be offering.”
She stressed that local businesses have a big impact on Connecticut’s economy. “For every dollar spent in a small business, 67% actually stays in the community,” Pastore says.
The virtual marketplace directory includes shops that sell homemade pottery, yarn, jewelry and pastries. It can be found here.
Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Ali covers the Naugatuck River Valley for Connecticut Public Radio. Email her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @ahleeoh.