There’s a new shopping mall in town – on the web.
The Retail Council of New York State has created an online listing of stores across the state so they can do business remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The listing at RetailNewYork.com, which grew from a handful of stores to more than 100 in two weeks, was under consideration even before the pandemic hit.
“These small independent stores make up such an important part of every community,” said Ted Potrikus, president and CEO of the Retail Council. “We wanted to shine a light on them and give them some visibility.”
The plan was thrown into high gear once state orders closed non-essential businesses beginning in March.
At first, consumers weren’t thinking about shopping much, except for necessities such as food and toilet paper, he said. But as weeks have passed, they might want to break out of their usual big-box online retailer habit with the help of RetailNewYork.com. They also now have stimulus checks to spend.
“Retail therapy is one of the ways people work it out, and you can’t really go to the store,” Potrikus said.
Small retailers may have had to furlough most of their workers, but they’re still open for business while they’re closed.
“These smaller stores are working as fulfillment centers,” Potrikus said.
Locally, Record Archive, Bob Shop Records and Fioravanti Florist in Rochester; Cricket on the Hearth in Penfield; Ethan Allen in Victor; Wizard of Clay in Honeoye Falls; and RV&E Bike and Skate and in Fairport and Canandaigua have all listed their businesses.
The listing is open to all retailers in the state, Potrikus said, not just members of the Retail Council. Retailers can become part of the list with a few clicks at the new website. They don’t have to have an online store to participate, or even a web page.
“It’s almost like the Yellow Pages,” Potrikus said. “If you have a website, we’ll link to the web site. If all you’ve got is a phone number, give us that.”
The council staff can help a store establish merchant processing for distant orders, he said.
“In many cases, they have the tools to do it online. They’ve just never done that.”
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