Website encourages shoppers to buy online while staying local

Shay Starrenburg has launched a website called Shop Small, where customers can find local online stores in one place.

Shay Starrenburg has launched a website called Shop Small, where customers can find local online stores in one place.

A website is encouraging Christmas shoppers to support family businesses by making it easier to find small shops around New Zealand online.

Shay Starrenburg launched the Shop Small website after she struggled to find small New Zealand-based business online to buy from.

"Even if you search local shops in New Zealand it's always bombarded with the Warehouse and Farmers that tends to come up," she said.

The new website, which was started in September, now boasts nearly 200 shops from around the country who all paid a fee to feature.

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Each shop has a page on the website which displays pictures of the shop's products, a description of the person behind the business and a link to their website where the customer can then buy the products.

"The whole idea is the online shopping is done with them," Starrenburg said.

There were some great small shops popping up around the country, Starrenburg said, and she wanted to highlight them.

"It's just amazing how much of a community there is out there between shop owners," she said.

"You see so much of people ... working together to promote each other."

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Starrenburg, who works part time as a web designer in New Plymouth, said she was looking to help develop that community by introducing the people running the business.  

"We've got a people page where you can scroll through and see the people behind the businesses, because that's what it's about," she said,

"You are supporting your local New Zealanders."

The website features small shops such as Doodlebum, Tinker Design, Pony Lane and The Art Room Limited who sell a range of products such as posters, clothes, pet shampoo, and steampunk merchandise.

Starrenburg said she had also seen a rise in the number of small businesses starting up and running from home.

"There are so many mums that are having babies and then starting up business that are completely run out of home, so that they can stay at home instead of returning to work," she said.

"It's so easy, everything is run out of home so you don't need to rent a shop space."

While most of the products were sold on businesses' own websites, Starrenburg said they were also trialling selling Christmas boxes on the Shop Small website which featured products from some of the businesses.

 - Stuff

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