World of Opportunity in the Digital Marketplace

World of Opportunity in the Digital Marketplace

Michelle Pinon
News Advertiser

Proponents of a new e-commerce initiative hosted two information sessions at the Social Centre in Vegreville on November 4.

The Vegreville & District Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Elk Island Region, and The Town of Vegreville have partnered together to offer local businesses, artists and non-profits the opportunity to have their own websites developed at no cost to them through the Digital Main Street shopHERE program.

Sign up is on a first come first served basis, and can accommodate a total of 30 participants. They will receive advice and support from experts who will be developing their websites. Overall, the program provides 17 plus hours of hands-on support to get them selling their products and services online.

“It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s free,” said Kathy Dmytriw, Project Coordinator with Community Futures Elk Island Region. She walked participants through the process during the PowerPoint presentation and fielded attendees’ questions afterward.

The purpose of ShopHERE is to focus on small independent businesses that currently do not have the resources to build an online store. Businesses can be based on main street, in industrial areas, or be home-based, but must be a registered business. In addition, they must have fewer than 10 employees or fewer than 25 employees if they are a café, restaurant, or bar.

Davin Gegolick has already signed up with shopHERE. He said, “I attended the presentation from both my personal coffee business perspective as well as from the County of Minburn’s perspective, to get a better understanding of the program. I’ve already signed up for the program with my Black Stripe Coffee business and look forward to getting an e-commerce website up and running…But given the high cost of building a website and attempting to keep my costs as low as possible, I’ve been hesitant to bite the bullet until I heard about the shopHERE program.”

Len Bullock, Owner of the Little Red Ice Cream Wagon, said he was going to sign up for the program. Bullock said, “I think with the small business community within the Town of Vegreville we’re all seeing numbers that are down, and struggling a bit, so this for us without websites to get involved in this at no cost to us, to get started, is a boost that we can’t even imagine how great that’s going to be.

I, myself don’t have a website for my business, I want to do one, I don’t have the experience; so, yes, I do want to do that, and do realize there’s money out there online. We’re missing out, so we do need to get on board, and with the Chamber, the Town, and Community Futures doing this for us, that’s wonderful. That’s a partnership in a community, you can’t get any better.”

Tom Koep, Economic Development Manager for the Town of Vegreville, feels the decision is a “no-brainer” as it is very easy for businesses to sign up and he is very excited about all of the possibilities a program like this can provide locally.

“Any business is able to try it and will reap the benefits of it. It gives brick and mortar businesses the opportunity to sell online,” added Michelle Henderson, General Manager of the Vegreville & District Chamber of Commerce.