The Elevate Northland community-development organization plans to launch an online marketplace Friday, July 10, to connect residents with local products and companies.
Alice Foeller, Elevate Northland co-founder, said the website will be part of the organization's efforts to promote Northland as the international district of Columbus and to leverage that to promote economic development.
She cited a market study that showed many shops and businesses along or around state Route 161 in Northland do not have websites.
Foeller said the online marketplace would be for "someone who wants to sell their items who doesn't already have online shopping for their own store."
"We are ready to have them be part of ours," Foeller said. "Not very many of our restaurants and shops have websites and (of) those that do, not many of them have the ability (for customers) to order or pay online. This is a way we could fill in that gap."
As of now, Foeller said Elevate Northland will charge vendors an introductory rate of 3% of sales conducted on the website.
She said that rate likely will increase in the future as Elevate Northland takes on other economic-development projects.
"Our mission is really to support the community with these kinds of initiatives, so we want to be able to more than cover our costs and create a pool of money to support things in the community," Foeller said. "But for now, we want people to be a part of it and to keep the price low."
Buyers will not need an account to shop online and vendors will be responsible for filling their own orders, she said.
As of June 24, two vendors had signed up for the site: Crazy Ladies in the Kitchen bakery and Anthonia's Facemasks.
Anthonia Okonkwo, who operates Anthonia's Facemasks out of her home, started the business when the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic began. She said her business has been popular. Okonkwo makes masks of different colors and for kids and adults.
"I've sold more than 200 or 300 masks (so far)," she said.
Because the business doesn't have an online presence, sales largely have come through word of mouth, she said. That will change once the Elevate Northland online marketplace is available.
Foeller said Elevate Northland hopes to have 10 vendors on the site by August.
"I think we'll easily make that," she said. "It would be more fun to have 20."
The marketplace will be available at elevatenorthland.org. Interested vendors can sign up for the marketplace via an online form available on the site.