I am excited to announce that I have just been accepted as a vendor at the QFLEA Virtual Flea Market an online community of about 400 vendors, QFLEA is the next generation of flea markets where the Q stands for Quality. All vendors offer high quality items, many of which are handcrafted and personalized. The QFLEA offers a wide variety of goods The flea market crafters, sell a huge range of mainly handcrafted products ranging from soap and candles, home-made food, teddy bears, gift baskets, quilts, pet supplies, jewelry, and now Pages From The Heart. All the vendors are traditional true small business folks offering a great line of unique one of a kind gift items not available anywhere else, and all from the comfort of your arm chair. I wanted to become a vendor a Qflea not just because most of the goods sold there are lovingly handcrafted by small business owners such as myself nor for the support of fellow members of a great online community which Qflea certainly is, one of the biggest attractions for me was finding a kindred spirit in Charley the owner of Qflea.
“An editorial opinion written by the owner of QFLEA.com – The Virtual Flea Market in support of small business.”
Another holiday shopping season has come and gone and once again, I’m depressed. I own www.QFLEA.com, a virtual flea market website consisting of almost four hundred of today’s new wave “mom and pop stores”. The vendors at the QFLEA flea market represent the small business enterprises of the Internet. We were once almost five hundred strong, but as time goes on, our small businesses continue to lose ground. They are losing to the Overstocks and Amazons, who are taking over online shopping and leaving the little guy in the dust. Without realizing it, we are allowing a sad history to repeat itself.
We’ve seen this before. As a kid growing up in my neighborhood, we had Harrison’s Hardware; Gerken’s Pharmacy, Barth’s Bakery and more. These were our small businesses … we knew Mr. Harrison, Mr. Gerken and Mrs. Barth. They were our neighbors and we gladly patronized our local stores. But times changed. Now, stores like Mr. Harrison’s hardware store are replaced by Home Depot. The local apothecary – does anyone even remember the word – yields today to CVS. The wonderful smell that seduced you into the local bakery has faded into just another department in some sterile superstore. We watched our small businesses being replaced by the corporate giants and we wondered what happened. Now, we’re about to watch the same process happen on line.
The small businesses of the Internet are truly special enterprises. Through QFLEA.com and many other small online businesses like us, one can purchase almost anything you can imagine. Hand made crafts, specialty jellies and jams, quilts, candles, soaps, ceramics, almost anything personalized, clothing, antiques and much more. There are thousands of items provided by stay at home moms and retired seniors and handicapped individuals and many other creative entrepreneurs who do double-duty as both the artists and the business owners. They provide a quality; a hand made touch and a dedication to customer service that the corporate assembly line cannot match. The problem is that as the years go by, while online shopping actually grows, those who own the small business sites are failing. Like the corner apothecary, they simply cannot devote the millions of dollars to advertising and promotion currently spent by the large corporate entities. How can Morgan’s Mailboxes or TisTasty Homemade Products compete with Overstock or Amazon? The answer is, they cannot. We lose hundreds of these small business gems every year and there is nothing happening to reverse this sad trend.
We need to make something happen. We need to find a way to stand up for all small businesses, both brick and mortar stores and online endeavors. We need to urge our local newspapers do more to promote the small businesses in their areas with nice stories about local businesses. We need to remind our elected officials that government could always do a little less for Corporate America and do more to support small business endeavors. We need to commit ourselves to the ideal that we will not allow today’s small business enterprise to be tomorrow’s dinosaur. I’m standing up for small business. Will you stand with me?