History holds testimony to the power of re-imagination and re-invention in times that challenge everything that we define as normal. We’re living these times today, in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a strong catalyst to the paradigm shift in the way we do business. Downtown Belleville has been innovative in its response, adapting fast to these strange times. The Downtown District Marketplace is a major step in this direction, a collective effort to pave the way for what might be a new “normal”.
The marketplace is home to more than 1,000 best-selling items from local businesses in downtown Belleville. With a wide variety of collections such as clothing, health and beauty, entertainment, food and even home decor, this online store is a one-stop shop for everything you’d normally find on a balmy spring afternoon strolling the downtown.
It is a complete marketplace in its diverse composition of local businesses, from retailers to restaurants, available at the touch of a button. Volunteers and staff from the Belleville Downtown District BIA have been working hard behind the scenes with over 25 local businesses to make the marketplace a reality.
“The Downtown District online marketplace concept was something we had planned for 2021, but when the pandemic hit, our businesses needed to continue to bring revenue in somehow,” says Marijo Cuerrier, Executive Director of the Belleville Downtown District BIA. “And for our community, it would allow them to support local business. It’s important now more than ever for each one of us to make choices that keep our local economy going. The Downtown District Marketplace makes that choice easy.”
Downtown District business owners are optimistic about the potential of the marketplace. Alex Bruce and Celine Bruce-Lepage, owners of The Lark restaurant, are happy to be a part of the marketplace. It lets them avoid quintessential food delivery apps that restrict restaurants’ revenue by forcing them to run at a deficit.
“The marketplace leverages existing technologies for main street businesses, like ours, to reach greater online traffic, while bypassing existing (cost-prohibitive) delivery apps,” Celine remarks. “[It] works in the interest of the businesses in the downtown core and allows those businesses, including our own, to utilize the platform and rebuild our business in this post-pandemic era.”
Local businesses in the Belleville Downtown District are adjusting to heightened public safety measures, including social distancing, for the well-being of the community at large. The Downtown District Marketplace is an evolution in response to unprecedented times, guiding local businesses toward a new, post-pandemic era.
Sheranda Griffiths of L’Auberge de France sums up her thoughts on the community spirit of the project: “We can’t say enough good things about how the community is rallying behind the whole concept of ‘shop local’. We are looking forward to the continued build-up of the site and the continued growing awareness of it. A great community effort by all.”