As the holiday season arrives amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, it’s putting even more pressure on small businesses than they’ve already seen in 2020.
As local entrepreneurial organizer Kevin Carter points out, November and December are typically when many retailers expect to earn most of their revenue.
“If we spend $100 locally, 70% of that stays in the local economy,” said Carter; it’s something like half of that for corporations. “If we want our small businesses to make it to 2021, we have to step up and support them this holiday season.”
This year, Carter and fellow ecosystem builder Pava LaPere teamed on a new tool on the web to find local businesses nearby, and the specific products they sell. The Buy Local Baltimore navigator has more than 200 businesses listed.
I heard someone complain that it is hard to shop local because they can't find the right businesses for their needs so…we built a platform
Explore over 200+ small businesses in Baltimore based on their products, ownership, neighborhood, and morehttps://t.co/J0MMLuDckf
— Pava LaPere (@pavamarie) November 25, 2020
“Especially during the pandemic, people have leaned heavily on online shopping, and we knew that where people did their holiday shopping could be life or death for many businesses,” said LaPere, who built the platform on technology used by her community mapping company EcoMap. “We hope that the site makes it easy for Baltimoreans to find local alternatives, because once you fall for the charm of a local business or local products, it’s hard to go back to buying chain brands.”
The search allows users to filter the businesses through six categories like the type of business, ownership, neighborhood and how to shop.
“Within those characteristics, there are over 200 different values that people can search for,” LaPere said. “This was really important to us, because it lets users search with queries like ‘black owned tea downtown’ and find a business that matches those criteria (Cuples!).”
LaPere and Carter are also looking to help give the businesses a boost in operations. Partnering with Equalyze, a startup formed by Loyola University Maryland students, they launched an additional program called A Force for Local. It matches local businesses with volunteers who can work on programs like social media marketing, content creation and pickup or delivery support.
“The goal here is to provide an opportunity for Baltimoreans to support local businesses with their time and talent, not just their wallet,” said Carter.
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