Actions launches, helping local artisans reach a larger customer base

Manitou Made.bmp
Posted at 4:00 PM, Nov 22, 2020

MANITOU SPRINGS — The eCommerce platform is now up and running. The effort is a direct response to COVID-19, allowing business owners who have never sold online before to expand their customer base.

In early fall, locals understood the threat of differing levels of Safer at Home or Stay at Home could impact their bottom line, further threatening the region's economy.

The site allows shoppers to purchase items from the city's unique stores and galleries from the comfort of their homes.

"It has been a tough summer," Ken Riesterer told News5 in September. He and his wife, Tina, are part owners of the Green Horse Gallery on Manitou Ave.

This new online shopping venture is possible thanks to CARES Act funds aimed at the city's economic recovery. It's a brainchild of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors Bureau & Office of Economic Development.

"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 told News5.

"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," said Becca Sickbert of the Manitou Springs Creative District.

For artisans like the Riesterers, online business isn't their forte. "Oh my gosh, we need help," Tina Riesterer told News5. "When it comes to computers, we are just lost."

There's a solution to that problem. The learning area of helps business owners get started on the process so they don't miss an opportunity. It comes with a checklist, a step-by-step process for building an eCommerce store, and methods to process online payments from customers.

“Small business ownership requires a level of dedication to creating products, services, and experiences for customers that leaves very little time to learn new skills,” says project manager Maria Navaratne. “Manitou Springs small business owners continue to have a growth mindset despite the current economic crisis, they simply needed a vehicle like Manitou Made to simplify the process of launching an eCommerce store and a very intentional, individualized educational support system.”

“We’ve got furniture makers, and jewelry makers and artists,” Sickbert said. “We’ve got small businesses represented across a lot of different industries.”

As of Sunday, November 22, here are the participating merchants: