Downtown Apalachicola Entrepreneurs Look to E-Commerce During Pandemic

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Downtown Apalachicola Entrepreneurs Look to E-Commerce During Pandemic New Website Promotes E-Gift Certificates to Support Brick and Mortar Businesses Contact: Augusta West Phone: (850) 274-1321 Email: awest@apalachicolamainstreet.org   Apalachicola, FL – The COVID-19 virus presents an unprecedented challenge for small businesses. The purchase of gift certificates has been widely promoted as a way to keep cash flowing to entrepreneurs during the economic downturn. However, most downtown Apalachicola businesses didn’t offer online options—until now. Apalachicola Main Street is filling the gap with ShopApalachicola.com, a site where customers can purchase e-gift certificates from more than 20 participating downtown restaurants and retailers. “With the devastating impact to our economy, we wanted to offer a new way to support local entrepreneurs,” said Mark Milliken, an Apalachicola Main Street board member, “Now whether you live across town or across the country you can help sustain small businesses by shopping from home.” Customers can purchase an e-gift certificate to use later or send one as a gift. When a transaction is made, the gift certificate is received via email instantly. “We’re seeing both types of these transactions taking place. Customers are definitely sending them as gifts,” said Main Street Executive Director Augusta West, “but they’re also buying them for themselves to use later, just to support local businesses right now. It’s really nice to see this response. Local businesses do so much to support the community. And now this is something we can do to support them when they need it most.” The e-gift certificate program is also being used for random acts of kindness. Customers have sent them to teachers, a postal worker, law enforcement officers, employees, volunteers, and healthcare workers. One of the interesting early trends is that 73% of customers who make a purchase do so from two or more businesses, showing the benefit of grouping multiple shops and restaurants onto one easy-to-use site. The participating businesses also benefit from Main Street’ s marketing of the site through e-newsletters, press releases, and social media. Purchases from the panhandle area have been a strong part of the initial response. However, purchases have also been made from several other states, pointing to the geographic diversity of the customer base in this small-town tourist destination where businesses rely on a mix of locals, snowbirds, part-time residents, tourists from across the country, and frequent visitors from the north Florida-south Georgia region. “The response has been really heartwarming,” said West. “Our local businesses really appreciate the support.” To learn more visit www.ShopApalachicola.com Apalachicola Main Street is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing downtown Apalachicola through economic development in the context of historic preservation. For more information please email info@downtownapalachicola.com or call 844-272-2523.

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