A website dedicated to selling goods for small Manitoba businesses is growing faster than anyone could have anticipated.
Vendors have joined goodlocal.ca in droves and orders are pouring in, increasing exponentially since site co-founder Obby Khan made a marketing push three weeks ago. The site temporarily paused all new orders on Nov. 28 to hire new staff and revamp the website to accommodate greater traffic.
Khan said he, his partner Ali Esmail and a few others were working up to 20 hours a day just to keep up.
To become a vendor, the vetting process is simple: if you’re a local business, you’re approved, said Khan. All interested entrepreneurs need to do is type in the website, click Become a Vendor and fill out the application form.
Employees at Good Local will contact potential businesses to post products online.
That means vendors need company logos, photos of their goods, product prices, payment details and any other vendor-specific information that might arise.
Business owners can drop off products to a building in the Exchange District next to Khan’s restaurant Shawarma Khan from which deliveries are sent out.
Business owners arrange to pay Good Local either a fixed percentage of sales or a flat dollar amount per unit.
Luke Nolan, owner of the Haberdashery on Albert Street, said the website provides a much-needed boost to business, especially as his shop remains shuttered due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"Every sale is precious. I think it’s a great idea. It’s kind of like Amazon for Winnipeg," he said.
A wide range of local sellers have joined the site, selling handmade soaps, hand creams, beard oils, knitted tuques, t-shirts, facemasks, specialty meats, pottery and more. Products don’t necessarily need to be locally made, but they must be sold through a local business.
The platform includes everything from full-time small business owners to people who make products in their basement when the kids go to bed, Khan said.
A number of vendors have seen spikes in sales since joining GoodLocal, said Khan. Businesses such as Marla’s Puzzle Pantry and Off The Hook MB were selling hundreds of units per week, he said.
Orders ticked up to 90 units in the first two-and-a-half weeks for Art Soap Life owner Rebecca Haverluck, which had her scrambling to fill orders in time for delivery. She solicits help here and there from a few family members but otherwise Haverluck said she does everything herself.
"It’s been kind of a whirlwind," Haverluck said. "I was definitely not expecting it to be that busy so fast."
The number of vendors has grown from 30 to over 150 in the past three weeks, and that number is expected to rise, Khan said.
Following some new funding from the province announced Thursday, goodlocal.ca can expect around $50,000 to help scale up their operations.
"I couldn't be more grateful to the government for trusting us to help small businesses during this time," said Khan, accepting the funding at a forum held by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
"I can't wait to take this and use it to make my community proud."
— With files from Temur Durrani