This year, local business owner Lisa Zimmermann made plans for a vendor marketplace at 305 Trackside — The Sunday Market — one that would bring brick-and-mortar shops, online-only retailers and local artisans together. The date was set for March 22. Then the coronavirus put an end to in-person events.
“After sitting momentarily in devastation, I realized there was no time to pout,” Lisa said. “There were over 20 business owners who had invested time and resources into prepping inventory and planning for this market, and I needed to figure out a way to make it happen the only way it now could — digitally.”
Lisa, the owner of Oak + Oliver Candle Co., moved the market online. Through social media, vendors offered discounts on sales and shipping and giveaways. It turned out to be a hit.
“The entire community got behind each participating business, and I loved hearing feedback that vendors were blown away by support. It really was an example of what can happen when we support each other.”
Lisa has now launched the second installment of The Sunday Market, just in time for Mother’s Day. See a list of vendors and the specials they’re offering here.
The Sunday Market is One Example of How Retailers Have Adapted.
With restrictions on in-person sales, boutiques have turned to live social media try-ons, while gift shops and bookstores have compiled special kits and stocked up on things like puzzles and games. Almost all are offering curbside or front-porch delivery — and almost all have increased their online offerings.
“I am learning that customer preferences are changing / evolving to that of convenience and comfort,” says Jorden Denny, owner of Kataphora Boutique. “The first virtual Sunday Market could not have come at a better time as I was really shifting my focus onto more of a digital platform. I was able to truly showcase my website’s capabilities and evolved delivery options (curbside pickup, free shipping, and free local delivery).”
Gyms, Too, Have Connected With their Audience in Different Ways.
“It’s an unnerving time for small businesses, but the support shown in our small community is so encouraging,” says Tiffany Fleeman, owner of Workhorse Fitness & Yoga. “By offering a a great deal on future fitness memberships and packages, I am hoping to get people excited about just that…the future. And all of the possibility that is ahead for us once we’ve made it through our current situation, because, this too shall pass.”
‘Your Competition is No Longer Your Competition, But Your Business Partner.’
With giveaways, shared posts and combined offerings, businesses have shifted focus to building community — and building each other up.
“Innovation and flexibility is key in the current state. The traditional business model definitely does not fit anymore,” says Scott Hasemeier, of Form V Chocolates. “I have noticed that businesses that support other businesses are more successful. Your competition is not longer your competition, but your business partner.”
“I’ve learned that amidst the uncertainty we have all been facing, this community has rallied to lift us up,” says Sam Steffen, owner of Samantha’s Designs. “They’re showing up for us to keep small businesses moving forward. That has truly inspired me to keep pushing, growing, and creating.”
“If at first you don’t succeed — or maybe in this case get struck down by the COVID-19 lockdown — try AGAIN,” says Cameron Cruse, founder and CEO of R.Riveter. “The virtual Sunday Market is a true representation of the resilience of our community and the strength that we pull from each other.”
“I have found so much joy in driving to the homes of my customers to deliver their packages,” says Kim Lyons, owner of Cotton & Grain Boutique. “It is so much fun! It is like a stash and dash! But, then, they catch me and yell, “Thank you!” from their front porch, and it brings me so much joy. … [With the market] we can showcase our creativity and promote the hard work that goes into every aspect of our businesses. It provides a first-hand look at the people who have a part in making our community the wonderful place that it is.”
Here’s What Other Market Vendors Had to Say:
“Not having a physical storefront for customers to shop in has been incredibly difficult, but the virtual Sunday Market is helping us reach old and new customers in a new way,” says Ashley Tramontin, owner of Against the Grain Shoppe. “I am so proud of how this community rallied behind the Sunday Market’s previous online event and I’m hopeful that this event will only continue to grow — even after all this is over!”
“I love how the Online Sunday Market shows the community what an influence they have on small business owners,” says Jessie Mangrubang, of Create Creative Mindset. “Because it is all on a digital platform, the community has the opportunity to learn more about who they a buying from. They have an opportunity to get more invested not just in products, but in people!”
“We are learning and improving how to interact and engage with our customers through social media,” say Heather Dyer and Elena Avila, of Save the Wave Skincare.
“Although we are an e-commerce business we depended on personal engagements with customers through our events, pop up shops, and at-home parties. This was how we were able to meet new people to introduce our products and educate them on what products would fit their needs. … Through this group of amazing entrepreneurs and business people we have been able to grow our business in a way we did not expect.”