Earlier this year, on a chilly January morning in Northeast Ohio, eBay announced a partnership with the city of Akron. A partnership intended to support small business by helping connect local entrepreneurs with eBay’s 175 million customers around the world. Dubbed ‘Retail Revival,’ our only ask of Akron’s business community was an open mind. This was about starting a movement, and shifting a mindset; staying local, but selling global.
After hundreds of applications, numerous meetings and months of work in preparation for launching this partnership, we hit the ground running – onboarding more than 100 small businesses in Akron and surrounding communities on March 1st. Our promise was to give the participating entrepreneurs all the tools eBay has at its disposal to help grow existing businesses in Akron.
The Akron community took the opportunity, and now six months into the program we are starting to see the impact of this effort.
Take Tiny Circuits for example. I met Ken Burns when we announced the partnership. Ken had experimented with online sales before, but it was time-consuming and not part of his primary focus. A natural inventor, Ken was busy developing his line of highly miniaturized video games and novelties. He told me he could produce circuit boards in Akron for a better price than outsourcing to China. With some basic training and education around the power of the eBay platform, Ken was able to open up his store on eBay in a matter of days. Soon thereafter, he made his first sale. To date, he’s had hundreds of transactions, shipping to all corners of the country. And that’s just one of the many examples we’ve seen out of Akron.
Here’s a look at the impact of the program in Akron:
It’s heartening to see so many local businesses go global. You see that in just six months, Akron sellers have already shipped to all 50 US States and more than 60 countries. It’s great to bring the world to Akron’s doorstep.
Our hope for increased sales, new revenue streams and strong partnerships is being realized. With the Akron businesses off and running, we began to look for other opportunities to expand this program.
And that’s what brought us to Lansing, Michigan
Coming to the Capital
Akron was just the beginning of this program and it provided a great template for us to learn from and build upon. So why Lansing?
In short, we found a lot of the same spirit that made Akron such a success -- entrepreneurship, immense local talent and a desire to turn things around. And a terrific local team, led by Lansing Mayor Andy Schor.
Last week, we held our official kick-off for the Lansing businesses accepted into the program. I personally had a chance to meet with more than 50 small businesses, hear their stories and help figure out how we can best support the growing movement that is already happening in the community.
I met Ari Levinsohn, the founder of Lion Brewing Solutions, a rapidly growing business. Ari already sells some of his home brewing kits and equipment on eBay, and he’s eager to learn how to expand. I also met Claire and Shawn Buitendorp, twin sisters and co-founders of Shock and Awww, a designer streetwear brand. They’ve dressed Katy Perry for concerts, and now they want to find more widescale success online.
There are a lot of amazing stories and products from Lansing that we’ll be able to feature on our marketplace. But don’t just take my word for it, check out ebayinc.com/lansing in the coming weeks as the city’s unique inventory is added to eBay.
Where to next?
The beauty of the eBay marketplace is the ability for anyone to sell online almost instantly. Even if you’ve never sold on eBay, the barrier to entry is pretty low. You can list an item in just a few minutes, or in some cases as fast as 10 seconds!
Everything we do is centered around making the shopping and selling experience on our global platform as simple and enjoyable as possible.
As we look to grow our Retail Revival program, we’re looking to connect small businesses from more towns like Akron and Lansing to the world. And support local businesses to thrive in a global marketplace.
If you’re thinking about selling on eBay – give it a try. Who knows, you may just start a retail revival of your own.