The new e-commerce platform ShopCloseBuy is planning to launch this month to provide a central online source for local shopping.

Local web developer TechnicalitiesPlus has created the platform in a bid to provide a local alternative to the likes of Amazon for online shopping amidst the pandemic.

The company hosted information sessions Sept. 3 and 9 with another slated for Sept. 15 to get more businesses on board for the service.

TechnicalitiesPlus Owner Donna Enright said she has consulted with the County of Haliburton, the Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC), the Haliburton BIA and the Arts Council Haliburton Highlands to get support and feedback on the initiative.

“Rather than sending our money outside of the community, let’s find a way to have people shop here and keep the money here,” Enright said at the Sept. 3 session.

The platform will allow businesses and organizations to sell products and host auctions. For now, it will be for pre-ordering and curbside pickup, but mail order is still in the works, Enright said. There is a $235 set-up fee and a $40/per month fee, along with a 2.9 per cent transaction fee.

But Enright said that SIRCH Community Services and HCDC are offering a subsidy to cover costs for 20 businesses. She added it should be taken advantage of and will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Enright said those are costs for the online payment processor Bambora as well as some recovery for TechnicalitiesPlus, though she has said they are covering website development, estimated at $24,850. The company hopes to break even, though if the model works, Enright said they will sell it to other communities to make more of a profit.

Business partner Ryan Anthony said it is easy for people to get set up on the website.

“It kind of mimics a Kijiji form. It’s really quite simple to get your products up and visible on the site,” Anthony said.

The County of Haliburton is not providing any dollars but is offering social media promotion. Local councillors have also voiced their support.

“Terrific contribution to our local economy,” Minden Hills Coun. Pam Sayne said during the first session. “We need alternative to Amazon.”

Signups are set to open after the final information session. The website will launch once there are 10 businesses ready.

“I do think it will grow,” Enright said. “It has incredible potential to promote everything that’s available in Haliburton County.”

The site will launch at shopclosebuy.ca

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