Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce board president Laurie Gehrke, left, and Chamber ED Laurie Filgiano accept a grant of $9,230 from Coastal Community Credit Union’s Marc Salewski and Cindi Levine on Dec. 1. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce board president Laurie Gehrke, left, and Chamber ED Laurie Filgiano accept a grant of $9,230 from Coastal Community Credit Union’s Marc Salewski and Cindi Levine on Dec. 1. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Virtual marketplace for Ucluelet and Tofino artisans in the works

“It’s like an Etsy for the Coast.”

Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce is launching an online marketplace for West Coast artisans thanks to a $9,230 grant from Coastal Community Credit Union’s (CCCU) Relief and Resiliency Fund.

Dubbed Common Ground Market (commongroundmarket.ca), the new multi-vendor virtual market is the brainchild of Chamber executive director Laurie Filgiano.

“It’s like an Etsy for the Coast,” said Filgiano. “The Chamber is not going to be using Common Ground Market as a revenue source. We are using it to support the local arts community.”

CCCU branch manager Marc Salewski says they received several applications, but the one from Filgiano really spoke to his team.

“We were looking to sponsor an organization who is moving past the COVID-19 world. The Relief and Resiliency Fund is really about helping get those things happening. Coastal received quite a few applications, but quite honestly this one is just awesome. It speaks to the organization and their vision to support the local business community. They did a great job with their submission,” Salewski told the Westerly at the cheque presentation.

Filgiano elaborates.

“It’s to create a low-risk, cost effective easy solution to e-commerce for people that aren’t on e-commerce yet,” she notes.

With the funding garnered from CCCU, Filgiano was able to hire local illustrator and designer Sarita Mielke to create the site, which will tentatively go live on Feb. 1, 2021. A call-out to vendors is set to take place the week of Dec. 14, 2020.

Filgiano was ideally hoping to keep Common Ground Market free, but because of admin and overhead costs, she explains that simply isn’t an option.

“We decided to go with a commission plan so that artisans only pay for the service if they are making money. We are trying to keep the commission rate as low as possible for Chamber Members, as this initiative is really meant as a support. Chamber Members will be charged a 10 per cent commission fee, while non-members will be charged a 30 per cent commission fee,” she said, adding she would really love to see the Chamber’s artisan membership grow.

In addition to establishing a virtual platform for the community to support local artists living and working on the Coast, Filgiano hopes Common Ground Market will be a hub for tourists to easily double back and purchase that gift that might have seen, but forgot to pick-up while on holiday.

“With help from Tourism Ucluelet and Tourism Tofino, we will be able to reach a wide audience of potential shoppers,” she said.

A ‘locals pick-up point’ is also in the works, notes Filgiano, so West Coasters won’t have to worry about pesky shipping fees for supporting local businesses.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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