MANITOU SPRINGS — Business leaders in Manitou Springs are developing an e-commerce site that will allow shoppers to purchase items from the city's unique stores and galleries from the comfort of their homes.
On Saturday, the streets of downtown Manitou Springs were packed with people supporting local stores, restaurants and arty galleries. But that's only a recent development. When business died down due to COVID-19, local business owners were unsure if they'd still have a livelihood.
"It has been a tough summer," Ken Riesterer said. He and his wife, Tina, are part owners of the Green Horse Gallery on Manitou Ave. "We were closed until August 1st," he said.
Their business could use a boost. So in stepped local economic leaders.
"We're kicking off ManitouMade.com just in time for the fall," said Becca Sickbert with the Manitou Springs Creative District. "We're taking some risk and together we're going to build a multi-vendor marketplace kind of inspired by Etsy."
ManitouMade.com will be possible thanks to CARES Act funds aimed at the city's economic recovery.
"It's a way of us showcasing the people and the products of Manitou Springs, which is so unique," Manitou Made Project Manager Maria Navartne said.
Launching in time for Cyber Monday, ManitouMade.Com will be an avenue to keep shoppers' business local, despite our new COVID-19 reality.
"The idea is that we'll begin by targeting people who have been visitors in Manitou Springs before who already have that heart connection, who understand our community, the uniqueness we have to offer, and want to visit from the comfort of their homes," Sickbert said.
For artisans like the Riesterers, online business isn't their forte.
"Oh my gosh, we need help," Tina Riesterer said. "When it comes to computers, we are just lost."
Now, for the first time, their local business, will be open to the whole world.