By Carl Wilson News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new eBay program called "Retail Revival" is designed to boost small and medium-size businesses to a global market. Participating retailers will receive a free e-store front and ongoing assistance and training from ebay to scale their businesses.
Thanks to a partnership with eBay someone on the other side of the globe may soon open a bag of fruity, peppery Vineyard Red Wine Nuts made right here.
"It opens up avenues that we had not envisioned," said Melissa Wallace of Hops and Nuts, which manufactures the nuts.
Wallace founded the Greensboro-based company four years ago. It makes craft-flavored snacks that pair with beer and wine. With a new eBay program called Retail Revival, Wallace hopes to sell those snacks to consumers around the world.
The city on Wednesday announced the online marketplace eBay selected Greensboro as a partner for the program, which is designed to boost small- and medium-size businesses to a global market.
"We know that small local businesses are the backbone of our local economy and 80 percent of what local businesses make stay in the local economy," Mayor Nancy Vaughan said at the announcement at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum.
Small businesses can apply to participate in the 12-month program.
EBay will provide participating retailers with a free e-store front and ongoing assistance and training, dedicated customer service and promotional support, such as feature articles, to connect Greensboro retailers to eBay's 179 million active buyers. EBay will also match up businesses with similar, successful businesses as mentors.
"They're going to be that kind of liaison that helps people get it up and running in the best possible way," said Luck Davidson, the chair of Triad Local First, a nonprofit advocate for Triad-based independent retailers.
"To my knowledge, that is just not done on any other platform," Davidson said.
Triad Local First, along with Action Greensboro, East Greensboro Now, Downtown Greensboro Inc. and the city of Greensboro worked with eBay to bring its Retail Revival program to Greensboro.
EBay targets cities in which a diverse, local retail base struggles to fill the void left by big manufacturers. Greensboro is the third city with which eBay has partnered. The other cities are Lansing, Mich., and Akron, Ohio.
"I think Greensboro had some leadership that understood that they had to do something else," Wallace said.
Davidson said that once eBay expressed interest in Greensboro as the next city for the program, Vaughan lobbied hard for the company to choose the city over others. Representatives from eBay spent a day touring the city with Vaughan.
According to Liz Crabill, the chief deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce, retail accounts for about 1.2 million jobs in the state.
"Retail is the nation's largest private-sector employer, driving communities and jobs across the country," Crabill said at Wednesday's announcement.
EBay came to Greensboro in November and met with business owners who were interested in expanding into a digital global marketplace.
Suzy Deering, the chief marketing officer of eBay Americas, said at the announcement that the company has more than 200,000 active sellers in North Carolina.
"We want the diverse inventory. We want that special selection," Deering said.
Lansing and Akron each have about 50 businesses that took advantage of the program. Vaughan hopes 100 Greensboro companies and businesses will do so.
"We've targeted about 40 businesses who are on board," Davidson said.
She said eBay is looking for businesses that are a good fit for the program.
"They are very interested in the vintage stores that have a very unique product," Davidson said of eBay. Boutiques like Vintage to Vogue and Antlers and Astronauts said they are interested in the program.
"It's a huge shot in the arm for our retailers," Davidson said.