My name is Mike Massey. My family has been the proprietors of a small chain of specialty outdoor stores in New Orleans for 3 (going on 4) generations. Since the early 1970’s, I’ve seen the fabric of our local community of retailers ebb and flow with the changing landscape of retail.
Over the past decade, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a trade association for the outdoor industry called the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. ‘Grassroots’ is an organization dedicated to the service of small, independent, local outdoor stores scattered around the country.
During that period, I’ve had a chance to meet hundreds of retailers, reps, and brands. As an advocate for local specialty shops, many of our conversations were about the importance of those specialty shops. Nearly universally, everyone agreed that the network of iconic, local shops who could service customers and pioneer new brands was critically important to our industry/community and more so, our culture.
What was less obvious was who could do anything to prevent a future of drones dropping commodity products in our driveways or our families spending our careers packing those boxes in distant warehouses.
EVERYONE AGREED. BUT WHAT CAN WE DO?
So, for 5 years, we plotted out a way for the outdoor community to come together and use the internet to push people into local stores rather than sweeping them away. Then, two years ago, we met a team that shared our vision and had the expertise to build what we were wanting to do.
Our solution is called LocalGear.com (Update: Now its called Locally.com). The technology at its heart aggregates catalog information directly from vendors, industry ecommerce partners, or even local retailers. Then, we feed that catalog information into a powerful marketplace platform that is location-aware. Shoppers can browse those catalogs and find exactly where that new rain jacket or hiking boot is in stock, near them.
If online marketplaces succeed by preventing people from having to run around to 6 stores, we succeed by not only telling them exactly where to go, but giving the shopper the option to also try it on, get great service and walk away with the product they need in their hands.
Our technology can bring local stores online with nothing more than a UPC list of in-stock products. And, those local shops even get a private area which features only their inventory, perfect for email or social marketing efforts. Brands get to control all content related to their products.
A year of development means LocalGear.com is one of the easiest web-based marketing platforms that there is. If a person can use a web browser and Excel, they can get their shop in front of local online shoppers in 5 minutes.
Our goal is to work out the bugs in the outdoor / recreation / gear over the next year and then use our technology to help other industries, brands, and shops facing the same circumstances. We’ve been called by florists, wine shops, and even patio furniture retailers. We want to help folks shop locally, online.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
Being heard online is tough. The only way it really works is if folks that care about a project share it with their friends, families, and peers. If you would love to be able to explore your local shops at 11pm in your pajamas, won’t you share this?
And, if you’d like to see us driving web shoppers into local stores for your brand or shop (sooner rather than later), why not kick in $5 or $10? That money will go to continued development of our “reverse-showrooming” technology and marketing the shop local message to web shoppers.
Mike Massey, Founding Partner
Lastly, some thanks is in order for our beta launch partners:
Arc’teryx, Cascade Designs, Chaco, Deuter, Ecco, Ex Officio, Helly Hansen, Horny Toad, Icebreaker, Keen, Kuhl, Lowa, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Mountain Khakis, Osprey, Prana, Princeton Tec, Salomon, Sea To Summit, Sierra Designs, Smartwool, Smith Optics, Suunto, The North Face, Ticla, Tilley, Vasque and Yakima