A made-in-Alberta online marketplace is now up and running after careful planning between chambers of commerce across the province.
Chamber Market is a one stop shop for local goods that launched on Monday, created as a way to help business grow their online shopping platforms through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, there are more than 100 businesses selling around 1,400 individual products on the e-commerce site.
“We saw tremendous traffic to the website, both from business owners as well as people who wanted to buy things,” said Alberta Chambers of Commerce CEO Ken Kobly.
“So much so that it shut down our servers for a bit, it overwhelmed it.”
Angel Harper, owner of Mocha Cabana Bistro and Mocha Local, is the first Lethbridge business using the site.
“I was really honoured when I got to be the first chamber member to put some items on the store,” she said, adding right now the restaurant’s focus is on catering through Chamber Market.
“We’ve got boxed lunches and we’re going to be putting some charcuterie boxes on there as well.”
Harper said having another avenue to sell product is always a benefit.
“One thing I’ve learned through COVID: don’t have all your eggs in one basket.”
According to Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce CEO Cyndi Bester Vos, there are about 20 more Lethbridge-area businesses ready to join the site in the near future.
“We were just waiting for all the testing to be done so when companies signed up, they could run and see success right away,” she explained.
“Our goal is to have 100 by the end of March.”
Bester Vos added businesses don’t need to be a member of the chamber to sign up.
“There are some great shops out in the rural region that don’t get the exposure that they really need. So we’re hoping to use this market as a way for those businesses to really get their name out there.”
The variety of businesses waiting to join is quite extensive.
“We’ve got a shoe store, a clothing store, we’ve got a knick-knack store, then we have somebody that quilts their own blankets, makes candles,” Bester Vos said.
A portion of a $4.5-million grant from the federal government went toward building and operating Chamber Market, with another chunk going directly toward community chambers of commerce.