Glenn Beck may be one of the most hated men in America, while simultaneously enjoying an audience of millions as loyal as any media personality has ever enjoyed. If there's one thing you can say about him, it's that he's one of the most controversial figures of the past decade. But he's also apparently a big believer in small businesses, so much so that he's launched a site dependent on their success.
This week, Mercury Radio Arts, Beck's multi-media company, announced the launch of The Marketplace by Markdown.com. This new site is focused on showcasing real life small businesses, their offerings and more importantly, their stories. The businesses, which are handpicked by the Markdown team, are given an opportunity to not only sell their products on the site (which already has significant traffic due to its previous "flash sale" platform) but also talk about what brought them to the business and what the inspiration is keeping them going.
The site is a little bit like Etsy, the e-commerce site that allows millions of micro businesses to sell their unique goods, only with the added dimension of getting to know the shopkeeper.
As an example, Softwater Soaps is a husband and wife team with a unique story. According to the site, Chris and Kristin Hamilton launched Softwater Soapworks out of a hobby that quickly transformed into a passion. I can remember the day when Chris came home and said, "Honey, I want to make soap," remembers Kristin. "My initial reaction was, Soap?? Little did I know that Chris had long had an interest in home-made soap after using a bar his great-grandmother had made as a child."
The two are now a featured business on the site, with an opportunity to sell their unique products. They join other businesses that include a belt shop, a store that produces bacon focused products (including cologne) and a bobblehead designer to name a few. According to Beck, ?As a small business owner myself, I strongly believe in the power of small businesses- their stories, their products and their passion is what makes America great."
What makes the Marketplace unique is that it's not only harnessing the power of e-commerce, but taking the time to give shoppers a small glimpse into the people who are providing the products, what sets them apart and why they decided to go out "on their own" in the first place. Mercury has multiple platforms across both traditional and digital media to promote its small business partners, including newsletters with over 1.5 million subscribers, a Facebook page with over 2 million fans and Beck's radio program with 10 million weekly listeners, where he will promote the site.
So how do businesses get found and ultimately featured on the site? According to the site, "the goal of The Marketplace by Markdown.com is to assemble the world?s finest collection of unique small businesses. We don?t just look for quality products; we look for quality people?entrepreneurs who are living their own version of the American Dream. And while our acceptance rate might be lower than Harvard?s, we believe that the businesses and products that do make the cut will exceed your expectations in every way."
Despite the high standards, any business can apply through the site and fans of a business can also recommend one to be featured.
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Jason Keith has been working for and with small businesses in the New England area for more than 10 years, specifically small, micro businesses. Born and raised in Massachusetts and a former journalist, he provides a unique perspective on the issues facing small businesses locally and nationally.To reach him directly email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone.