By Angelica Ingram
Special to the Times
Since signing up for ShopCloseBuy.ca, Kyla Grexton has been amazed at the local support and assistance she has received. The creator behind Keep Me In Stitchez, Grexton makes handmade baby gifts, blankets, dishcloths and much more.
Grexton signed on for the local website as a new avenue to sell her items and expand her online presence.
“The local aspect was a HUGE determining factor. The support and promotion are why I’ll stay,” she said.
ShopCloseBuy.ca is a local initiative that offers an online presence for businesses and organizations to promote their unique items, experiences and more. The online website was created in Haliburton County by TechnicalitiesPlus and its mandate is to promote the wonderful offerings within the area to a broader audience.
Thanks to funding from the Haliburton County Development Corporation through the Local Initiatives Project (LIP), there are currently a number of grant opportunities for local businesses to sign up with ShopCloseBuy.ca.
Grexton is one of the LIP recipients and is happy to support a local website and keep her dollars in the community.
“I would rather my money stay local so this was perfect. I cringe at the likes of Amazon, so it’s an honour to be part of a local option,” Grexton said. “I truly hope the best for all at ShopCloseBuy.ca because they are doing great things for small businesses.”
Through a partnership between SIRCH and TechnicalitiesPlus, the grants are available from now until the end of February and the application process is very inclusive and straightforward, Christine Hewitt of ShopCloseBuy.ca said.
“The qualifying process is very simple, they basically have a conversation with me,” Hewitt said. “They don’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to be approved and then we take care of everything for free for five months.”
Businesses that apply and are selected will receive a multitude of benefits, including social media coaching and promotion, enhanced online marketing and much more through TechnicalitiesPlus and SIRCH. Selected entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to showcase their wares in the village of Haliburton and have their commission reduced for the first three months.
“It’s a great partnership in that SIRCH can provide a new business, or one that is struggling financially, an opportunity to sell their products at the (SIRCH) Marketplace … this is designed to give them support and leverage for their business, have more exposure physically in the Marketplace which is great and, then in addition to that, they get a professional video developed about their business,” Hewitt said
Described as a local Amazon, ShopCloseBuy.ca has a variety of items for sale, from locally made hand-blown beer glasses to fitness classes.
The LIP grant is available for new businesses, defined as those that have been around for one year or less, and those that have made less then $35,000 in the year 2020. The grant lasts for five months.
There are a total of 20 grants available and 10 local businesses have already taken advantage of the program. Interested businesses have until the end of February to apply, however the sooner you apply the better.
“It’s a great community effort and we have the funds,” Hewitt said. “We need to get the word out, we want businesses to take advantage of this to help support their business.”
Grexton has been doing her part to spread the word about this opportunity to other local artisans and creators.
“I have been telling others about it just based on the support alone. I have done tech support in the past, so when someone goes above and beyond in the support department, I tend to make sure others know that they won’t be left to flounder. With the way a lot of customer service is these days, this is such a huge thing,” she said.
In addition to for profit businesses, ShopCloseBuy.ca is available to not-for-profit organizations and charities, and has great online auction capabilities. Each vendor on the site has their own custom/brand vendor page, with a description of their business, contact information, social media links and much more.
“ShopCloseBuy.ca is as much a marketing site as it is an e-commerce site,” Hewitt said. She adds that some businesses have even gained volunteers through the site.
“The goal is to create a mini-Amazon,” she said. “You can sell, promote, auction, market your business, no matter what it is.”
With the pandemic events of the past year-and-a-half, many people are turning to online sites to shop and Hewitt points to this site as a great way to keep dollars in our community.
Marketing and sales coordinator for SIRCH Community Services, Eric Wolfe agrees and is excited to be working with businesses to help promote their offerings.
“If you’ve got this great idea and don’t know where to go with it … this gives them the platform to get their foot in the door.”
Wolfe will work with each applicant to create an individualized plan.
“We’ve got this opportunity here, please reach out. How often do you have someone say we want to help you market your business at no cost,” he said.
For more information about ShopCloseBuy.ca or to apply for the grant visit www.shopclosebuy.ca or email email@example.com or call 705-457-9977.