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A solution to battling big retail, the village’s handy web portal connects Westchester shoppers with the local small businesses they love.
There’s nothing better than finding that perfect present for that hard-to-shop-for someone, but between the pandemic, supply chain snafus, and the age of infinite online variety (and frustratingly low inventory), that’s a feeling that’s been pretty hard to come by. Luckily, one Westchester County village has come up with an innovative way to bring its fully stocked local shops right into your living room.
As part of the Light Up Larchmont holiday festivities, the little village has launched a Digital Downtown web portal, bringing the best of local shopping under one easy-to-peruse umbrella. Users can browse by category through more than 50 individual boutiques and businesses for gifts like fashion, jewelry, food, home décor, beauty and wellness products, and even home services, bringing them right to each individual retailer’s online shops.
We talked to Larchmont Chamber of Commerce President and Flower Bar owner Nancy White to get the full details.
How did the idea for a centralized shopping portal come about?
We started the “Digital Downtown” catalogue last year, when we didn’t know what we would be able to do to promote in-person shopping due to COVID. Also, as online shopping has grown enormously, customers expect to be able to shop whenever they want, and we wanted to get our local shops in front of the community, even in their homes if necessary.
How many local businesses currently participate?
Approximately 30 shops, restaurants, and local businesses offer products and services on our online shopping portal. They can update and change their offerings as often as they like, and the product will link to their e-commerce website. If they don’t have an e-commerce website, it can link to their member page on our Chamber website. Some of the businesses have had great success – from selling jewelry for thousands of dollars to gifts of clothing, flower subscriptions, and home décor. We have a social media manger, who promotes the offerings and drives traffic to the catalog via our social media platforms, @LoveLarchmont on Facebook and Instagram.
How can new businesses join before the holidays are over?
They need to be members of the Chamber of Commerce, and then they can submit their photos and copy to our webmaster to be included.
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Will the Digital Downtown portal continue through past the holiday season?
We would love to develop an ongoing, robust digital downtown program and are exploring several technologies that would allow us to do that. We are also working on a text messaging program, which could text those who sign up when a new product is posted or a menu is updated. Ultimately, the success of any digital downtown will depend on the e-commerce capabilities of our local businesses. Some have embraced digital sales, while others have varying degrees of e-commerce abilities, and we are taking that into consideration for our future programs.
Still looking for that perfect, “make them ugly-cry” gift? For now, guests can shop the Digital Downtown through the end of the holiday season.