Small businesses are the fabric of our local communities. They create jobs for our neighbors and bring our Main Streets to life.
As the world struggles to cope with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in particular are facing difficult and unprecedented challenges. Now, more than ever, eBay remains committed to helping our small business communities to sustain and grow during this time.
Last week, we launched our “Up & Running” initiative, a $100 million relief program for U.S. brick-and-mortar businesses designed to help them set up shop on eBay and grow online. Up & Running represents an exciting evolution of our hallmark small business support program, Retail Revival, and will enable us to reach more businesses with more support all across the country.
Launched in 2018, Retail Revival was designed to equip entrepreneurs with the resources, training and tools needed to excel in ecommerce. Ultimately, our goal is to enable them to reach customers far beyond their city limits, so they can grow their business locally while selling globally. We began in Akron, Ohio, and have since expanded to 13 additional cities in eight countries around the world.
In February, we welcomed 50 local entrepreneurs in Austin, Texas, to join our Retail Revival program, with a focus on the creative and artistic business that have made this southern city world famous. They join the more than 500 small businesses globally that have participated in Retail Revival to date.
We recently spoke with several of the participating businesses about what inspired them to start their business as artisans and why they decided to start selling online. Read more about their stories below.
Shop Austin’s unique inventory and support a small business at ebay.com/austin.
Meet Our Retail Revival Austin Sellers
Artist, Owner of Lys Santamaria, Art Shop
Lys Santamaria is a contemporary beadwork artist who uses tiny glass beads to create intricate works of art, gifts, and jewelry. Lys is often inspired by color and people, and enjoys experimenting with color combinations and learning about the psychology of color.
Lys pursued beadworking full-time so she could set her own schedule and make an independent income. She joined Austin’s Retail Revival program to help learn how she can grow and expand her business.
“When I started my business I thought, ‘Okay, I want to be an artist.’ But I never really realized that that was also saying I want to be a business owner,” Lys said.
Through Retail Revival, Lys has met other makers, artisans and crafters in the Austin area, which she says will help her grow as a business owner and artist. The program has helped her continue to “push my networks and my circles out,” she said.
“eBay is freedom for me,” Lys said. “It means the ability to sell to any customer worldwide and to be supported by a team here at eBay to know that I'm taken care of if I need any help.”
Explore Lys’ handmade goods, and shop at her eBay store online.
Owner, The French & I
George Hernandez is the owner and operator of the French & I, a dog accessories brand inspired by his French Bulldog, Zeus. His store features a collection of dog leashes, collars and bandanas that are all handmade by George in his Austin workshop.
George, who also is a U.S. veteran, said he started his business after he was unable to find accessories for Zeus that fit him well and were unique to his style.
“For me, Zeus is a one-of-a-kind dog,” George said. “I always say that I didn't rescue him, he rescued me. For me, he’s very special, he's my son. So I want him to stand out from the rest.”
George joined the Retail Revival program to expand his customer base for his growing business. As an entrepreneur, he said, “eBay’s Retail Revival program really puts the training and tools in my hands to be able to reach a much larger audience.”
“I think this is a great program for anyone that's a dreamer, right? And wants to make their dream a reality,” George said.
See the handcrafted dog accessories made by George at his eBay store online.
Owner, GoodenSweet Cookies
Sean Gooden is the owner of GoodenSweet cookies, an all-natural gourmet cookie company with treats ranging from chocolate chip to oatmeal raisin to lemon cranberry.
Sean started his business in honor of his late older brother and best friend, Anthony, who also was a baker. He and Anthony talked about opening the business before Anthony’s accidental death in 2008.
Anthony’s favorite cookie would be “the original, the chocolate chip,” Sean said. In high school, Sean started baking and selling chocolate chip cookies for about 50 cents each. His brother loved those cookies and would call them the “World’s Famous Chocolate Chip,” he said.
“What's kept me going when there's been a hurdle or speed bump has definitely been my brother's memory,” Sean said. “That is a driving force to say the least. I have children, I have a granddaughter. I want to establish the legacy that outlives my life and the life of my children's children's children.”
When his customers taste one of his cookies, Sean said he hopes that it’ll take them back to their childhood, “when they may have gotten warm cookies out of the oven that grandma had just made.”
“It's much like when you hear a song that you loved when you were a kid, it'll take you right back to that place,” he said. “So the cookies are very much that same way. People taste them, start eating them and it takes them back to a place that's there.”
For Sean, the opportunity to sell on a global platform like eBay is “something businesses dream about,” he said. “I'm so excited about getting set up on the platform and just letting everybody know that I’m on eBay now,” he said.
Explore the cookies available in Sean’s shop at his eBay store online.
Since 1995, eBay has been driven by our purpose to empower people and create economic opportunity. We’re committed to helping our sellers during this difficult time.
For more eBay news and updates related to the coronavirus outbreak, please visit our seller community center. For information on government support for small businesses in the U.S. and abroad, visit eBay’s Government Relations site at eBayMainStreet.com/covid19.