Shopping local online, small businesses embrace e-commerce

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 8:25 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The biggest shopping weekend of the year wraps up with Cyber Monday. The National Retail Federation estimates 166.3 million people were expected to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. And since the pandemic, more and more local businesses have turned to e-commerce options.

Sales are on the rise at stores you might not expect, according to one Waterbury antique shop. While you may not think to look at antiques online, this store says e-commerce has connected them to buyers around the world.

You could get lost for hours exploring the treasures at Sir Richard’s Antiques and Fine Art Center in Waterbury. But hundreds of customers peruse the collection in the comfort of their own homes, too.

“It gave us another venue. About a quarter of our business is online now,” said Barbara Woodard from Sir Richard’s Antiques and Fine Art Center.

Woodard says her daughter, Tanya Dunster, helped launch their website in 2004. But it really came in handy in 2020 when the store shut down in-person shopping for almost two years.

“Not only did we sell a lot online, but we also made a lot of good contacts, as well. It wasn’t just selling, it was getting a nice base of new customers in a different way,” said Woodard.

When you think of online shopping you might not think of antiques, some of which cost thousands of dollars. But Woodard and Dunster say they’ve been able to sell the collectibles to people all over the world.

And experts say they’re not the only ones taking advantage of online retail. The Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce said the pandemic provided an opportunity for many local shops to add and keep digital options by investing in e-commerce infrastructure.

“Especially for a shopper who knows what they want and they want to buy it locally. You know, it’s a convenience thing to be able to go onto a site and just order what you’d like,” said Cathy Davis with the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce.

Online shopping has become an easy option for buyers, and the National Retail Federation says Cyber Monday is the second most popular day to shop behind Black Friday.

“I do a combination of both, a bit of a hybrid model,” said Loretta of South Burlington.

Back in Waterbury, Sir Richard’s is holding a Cyber Monday sale in person and online because they say the winter online season is much more robust than the summer online season.

“Because people are home. Yeah. In the summer everybody’s traveling and you know, so in the winter online is much better,” said Woodard.