A new venture hopes to give consumers the convenience of shopping online and finding an order dropped off on their doorstep while still supporting local businesses.
The Hobart Chamber of Commerce will soon launch a new website called shoplocalregion.com, an e-commerce portal in which people can buy from local merchants in the community.
"This site will serve as a shop at home, shop local site for the Region," Hobart Chamber of Commerce President Tom Byelick said. "Local merchants will be able to sell their merchandise via this site followed by delivery to their (customer's) door. There is no upcharge to items sold and charges to the retailer total no more than $20 per month, which goes toward the uploading of new products and images, which is facilitated by the web designer."
The goal is to launch the website by Oct. 1 in time for the holiday shopping season.
"Local merchants are often edged up by corporate merchants when it comes to shopping at home," Byelick said. "This lets them compete by letting people order items right on the website that are delivered by a delivery driver right to their home."
People can shop online while still supporting local businesses, Byelick said. Most items will be delivered by the next day.
"You can buy a product for a price you'd find it at in the store," Byelick said. "It's super-convenient with no additional fees or upcharges."
Initially, the website will serve Hobart businesses, including those on U.S. 30 by the Southlake Mall. But the intention is to make the e-commerce site open to any interested business in Northwest Indiana and to deliver across the Region.
"This is for the Calumet Region," Byelick said. "We're still ironing out the delivery radius, but can ship via FedEx whatever's not convenient to deliver. Our long-term goal is for this to be a regional economic driver."
Zionsville has a similar e-commerce site in central Indiana. Byelick learned about it at a conference and signed the chamber up right away.
"I jumped on it," he said. "It's something we need in this area. As a chamber, how could we better help local businesses than to help them sell their merchandise and promote themselves? You see so many Amazon trucks driving up and down the street. We need to support our local businesses."
Any businesses interested in participating should call Byelick at 219-924-5774.