VIRGINIA BEACH — It can be a struggle to keep a small, local business going in the middle of a pandemic.
That’s especially true as the holiday season is upon us when large companies are offering one-stop online shopping that may seem safer and more convenient than going out to shop.
Still, there’s something charming about hand-crafted, locally made goods that you can’t really get from mass-produced items, and it’s satisfying to know that you helped to support a small cottage industry and boost the local economy.
It’s also possible to do this from your own home since some local entrepreneurs are offering their products online.
The pandemic has proved “challenging” for Kristin Williams of Blue Dragonfly Farm, who markets goats milk soaps and other products from her Knotts Island, Va.,home.
Typically, she travels to large shows where she does a great deal of her business, but all of that came to a grinding halt this year with many shows being canceled. She is still doing a few shows, and she markets at some local businesses including Blue Pete’s Restaurant in Pungo, but she also depends on online sales for a lot of her business.
“It’s been challenging with a lot of the larger shows being canceled,” Williams said. Most people who shop online think of the larger avenues such as Amazon.”
Williams’ products include soaps and lotions, and she also makes shower steamers in two varieties, including lavender for relaxation or eucalyptus and mint to stimulate your senses and soothe your sinuses. Website visitors at bluedragonflyfarm.com are also treated to cute pictures and a brief video of her Nigerian dwarf goats frolicking.
Gifts are available for under $10, and Williams offers free shipping on orders of $60 or more. She’s also willing to meet online customers at local venues to deliver their purchases. If you prefer to have them shipped, they usually go out within a week.
Kayla Nuber markets hand-crafted jewelry on her website, gypseabohemian.com, and supplies several stores in Virginia. I first became familiar with her products from shopping at Pungo Board House, which still stocks them, and I’ve always been charmed by the intricate, whimsical earrings.
I once bought a pair of the dragonfly earrings as a gift for a young lady only to learn that she didn’t have pierced ears, but she fell in love with them and decided to keep them to display on her message board.
Many of Nuber’s items, such as the dragonfly earrings, are inspired by nature and by local scenes, including the ocean. She also offers more traditional items such as silver rings and a small line of vintage jewelry.
“Ecclectic,” “vague,” and “free-spirited” are words that she uses to describe her products, which range in cost from under $20 to about $400. Most items sell in the $20 to $40 range.
“It’s been a struggle this year,” said Nuber, who also markets on Instagram at @gypseabohemian, “and I’m now offering free online shipping to encourage online sales.”
Items are shipped immediately, she said.
So this Christmas, won’t you join me in the local challenge?
I’m going to see if I can do all of my Christmas shopping from small, community-based businesses.
The author is a contributor to The Independent News. Her journalism also has appeared in The Virginian-Pilot.
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