By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Dozens of northern Colorado small businesses will see a steady flow of sales through the holiday season, even with COVID-19 looming, thanks to a new online marketplace. The “Visit FoCo Marketplace,” created by the Visit Fort Collins office, is a central online shopping location where products from more than 70 local businesses are available for purchase from the comfort and safety of someone’s couch.

(credit: fortcollinsmarketplace.com)

The marketplace, which was just a concept back in August, was made possible thanks to several Fort Collins small businesses coming together to make the platform a reality by Black Friday.

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“It truly makes a difference to the economic health of your community,” said Cynthia Eichler, President of Visit Fort Collins.

The push to get more people to shop local is decades old, but the idea of dozens of individual businesses sharing one locally-based sales website is new.

“It’s really helping small businesses thrive and survive in a difficult time,” Eichler told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “We’ve had over 100 orders since we kicked off.’

Orders have been made across a wide range of businesses. Some are restaurants, others are gift shops or clothing boutiques. Some are brick and mortar operations, others are simply Etsy-style shops selling crafts out of basements.

(credit: CBS)

One thing they all have in common is that their operations are located in Fort Collins city limits.

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Heather Trantham and Jason Hevelone, owners of CopperMuse Distillery in Old Town, said they saw online sales through the first weekend of the site’s operation.

“The orders started right away, I was really surprised at how fast they came through. It was great for our business,” Trantham said.

CopperMuse is offering gift baskets, merchandise, and single bottle sales through the marketplace. They are unable to deliver or ship items which include alcohol, but are able to prepare them for pickup easily.

“You go to one site and get a spattering of what is the best here in Fort Collins,” Hevelone said. “People are wanting to support their local businesses that are struggling through this. It created one stop shopping.”

With 70 local businesses participating, and more welcomed to apply, those involved said they envisioned the online marketplace outlasting the length of the pandemic.

“(Shoppers) still have an avenue to get things they love in relationship to Fort Collins,” Eichler said. “It was an opportunity for local businesses to reach wider and keep those registers ringing.”

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You can shop the local businesses online at fortcollinsmarketplace.com.

Dillon Thomas