The holidays always have a way of sneaking up on me. Even though they predictably come once a year, I can never seem to find just the right gift for each of my loved ones. Time and time again, I find myself arriving at a festive party or family get-together with a hastily grabbed bottle of wine (often from my own rack), or worse, empty-handed.
Whether I’m overscheduled or procrastinating, with the advent of online shopping, I don’t really have an excuse. The only problem: I always have preferred to buy gifts from local makers, designers, and stores. Until recently, online shopping was mainly the arena of big-box retailers and Amazon.com. And while Amazon remains the king—last year, a record-setting billion units were ordered from the site worldwide—independent retailers and designers now are offering slick, user-friendly e-commerce sites, too.
Take longtime Twin Cities brick-and-mortar stores Cliché—a trendy, affordable Lowry Hill fashion staple—and 50th & France designer haven Grethen House, which recently opened its second location in the North Loop. Both recently have launched e-stores, making their goods available to anyone with an internet connection and a credit card.
Newer Lyn-Lake stores such as the women’s clothing shop Kisa Boutique and gift and home outpost Pharmacie folded online retailing into their businesses from the onset, opening physical storefronts in conjunction with their e-shops. And Parc Boutique in Northeast Minneapolis and Edina was at the forefront of the internet retailing boom when it opened its online shop in 2012.
Others are going into the online-only business. Minneapolis jewelry designer Annika Kaplan, who helped found local e-commerce site Ship & Shape in 2011 to sell her wares and those of other independent makers, says that it was the most affordable option out there. “There are lots of costs associated with having a brick-and-mortar shop, and we didn’t feel comfortable with taking on that much responsibility,” she says. “Also, the idea that we could potentially ship all over the world with ease was appealing.”
John Mark, the entrepreneur behind the new local clothing and accessories e-retailer Hotrocity (rhymes with velocity) points to the freedom that e-commerce gives business owners to present bolder selections. “Our products are things you’re not going to find at most brick-and-mortar stores,” he says. “My style is loud and wacky and crazy, so I figured my online store should reflect that.”
E-sites are not just freeing and cost-effective for retailers, but consumers, too, as they make the ability to shop local readily available with the click of a button or swipe of an iPad, 24 hours a day.
I guess this means I’m officially out of excuses. And, dear reader, so are you!