Starting in November Arlington shoppers will be able to go to an online marketplace that brings many local merchants into one place.

The city of Arlington and the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce are working together to create an "Etsy-like" online marketplace store for local small businesses.

The website will be located at when it is open.

"We're always looking for ways to help drive the economy and develop the downtown and Smokey Point," said Mandy Kruger, executive director of the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The city of Arlington's City Council approved the use of funds from the March federal coronavirus relief bill to build the website.

"So there really is no cost to the business owner," said Kruger, who added there has been a good response so far for the website.

The Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce already provides a listing of businesses on their website, but the new website is meant for more of a customer experience where products can be displayed.

"It will be an even better version of what we've done just on our own with Wordpress [a common website creation system]," said Kruger.

She said it will be more professional and designed for the user.

Jack Cash, owner of downtown Arlington's FauxyFurr Vintage and Homemade, said she thought it was a good idea and is planning to be a part of the website.

Her business "upcycles" various items such as a wide variety of custom boho boots.

"I think that digital marketing and videography are the 21st century and this allows people to be in their home and browse our little tiny town from anywhere, which I think is huge," she said.

She said the pandemic has been an anxious time for many businesses.

"In the beginning it was really scary because we didn't know what to expect and it was the first time in my career I had three months off," she said.

During that time she said she has been able to "re-evaluate where we want to put our time and energy" and has been pushing into more online spaces.

"That has been our biggest lesson with the COVID," said Cash.

Debi Kokulak, owner of the downtown Ava Rose Boutique and Gifts in Arlington, also said that online sales have helped her.

"Those customers have really kept us going," she said. "Things have been decent. When we were closed we still did online business."

While she hasn't submitted the paperwork yet, Kokulak said she is planning to be part of the online Arlington shop as well.

"I just think it's a good way to get the word out locally," she said. "I like that it will support all the local businesses."

For businesses that already have online purchasing set up, the website will direct customers to those businesses' existing websites.

For those businesses that don't currently have an online store, the chamber hopes to help set up what e-commerce they can with the business.

"This will be especially good for those businesses that don't have a web presence," said Kruger.

The site may focus more on retail shops and restaurants at first, but Kruger said they hope to have all types of businesses included on the website.

Arlington business owners interested in being a part of the new online marketplace can contact Mandy Kruger at the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce at 360-659-5453 for more information.


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