VENICE – Venice MainStreet has launched an online marketplace where merchants on the island of Venice who are members can market their wares.
“When the pandemic first hit in 2020, my board of directors really wanted to have an online shopping opportunity for all our business partners to participate in, but it’s very complicated to have 60 or so stores all agree on an online platform and buy in and launch it and it takes a level of expertise in doing online marketplace e-commerce,” Venice MainStreet CEO Kara Morgan said.
The nonprofit, which, according to its mission statement is tasked with “preserving and enhancing the character, beauty, and economic vitality of historic downtown Venice,” was accepted into a 30-month Patterson Foundation program, “Margin & Mission Ignition,’ in 2022.
The program, which started in 2013, is designed in part to help nonprofits improve their economic viability and fundraising.
Morgan said that after the 2020 COVID-19 shutdown – which followed slowdowns induced by red tide and the city’s downtown revitalization project – the Venice MainStreet board wanted to establish an online presence.
It recently launched the new site, https://wwww/Shopvenicefl.com and has hired staff to photograph and write descriptions of the wares in member stores and maintain the site.
The stores pay up front to participate and Venice MainStreet also collects a small percentage of the sales.
Customers can buy through the site but deal directly with the shops.
“It’s sort of like a project that’s bringing Venice into the 21st century,” Morgan said. “It’s a project that’s good for our organization – growth and development for Venice MainStreet – and again we’re meeting the needs of our businesses when a business interruption will happen again to us.”