First Town Downtown, an organization that promotes the historic Windsor Center area, is now hosting online shopping events streamed live from local businesses through its official Facebook page.
On a trial run Saturday, April 25, organizers visited Ace Hardware, James Selig Estate Jewelry and Antiques, and the Blue Dragonfly gift shop. At each location, proprietors discussed safety measures they’ve implemented in response to the coronavirus outbreak, showed off items for sale, and explained how customers can call in orders for curbside pickup or delivery.
State Rep. Jane Garibay, D-Windsor, who heads First Town Downtown, said the idea for a home shopping event broadcast live through social media was first put forward by Scott Hoffman, owner and manager of the local Ace Hardware, who had seen a similar tactic used by business owners in Ocean City, Maryland.
“We put it together in a week and half,” Garibay said Thursday. “In this climate, we don’t have time to waste when it comes to supporting our small businesses.”
The exact format of the QVC-like presentations took some ironing out, as most business owners had never pitched their products and services for a camera before.
“They’re just getting used to it,” Garibay said. “It’s a different kind of interview.”
Still, last Saturday’s event, filmed by Garibay and another volunteer, attracted thousands of viewers and generated a fresh surge of orders for the participating retailers, convincing First Town Downtown to make the livestream a weekly event.
“We’re a small town so we didn’t know how it would go at first, but it was huge on Facebook,” she said. “Communities want to support their small businesses and their mom and pop shops.”
First Town Downtown plans to broadcast a new shop-from-home program each Saturday morning. Garibay said that while the group will keep its focus on Windsor Center, she wants to start conducting interviews with local restaurants that are offering takeout.
First Town Downtown’s next live shopping event will be streamed via Facebook on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Organizers plan to visit Jordan Florist & Gifts, the Geissler’s Supermarket on Broad Street, and PC Development Group, which sells and services computers, printers, and related equipment.
An archived video of the April 25 live-stream is available on First Town Downtown’s Facebook page.
Windsor group helps local businesses make their pitch
By Zachary F. Vasile
May 1, 2020