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Community Highlights: Meet Tina Hercules and Desiree de Barros of Local Street Marketplace

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tina Hercules and Desiree de Barros.

Hi Tina and Desiree, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
It all started with Granny’s curry, which is the best I have ever had. My granny, I mean my husband’s granny, one of the sweetest souls I’ve known. On the way home from her house my husband and I were talking about the amazing food traditions in our family. We talked about how nice it would be to taste the favorite dishes from other families in our community as well. We then realized… there are people in our community that make great food from their homes, local commercial kitchens, or small storefronts, etc.

And more than just food! Services, pottery, clothes, jewelry, ornaments, woodworking, art, lotions, candles, the list is endless. But, it can be difficult to find our local gems. Unless you want to scour the internet, search through the endless list of people on Etsy who may be across the county, or you love the social media scene – I wasn’t. That got us thinking.

What if we made it really easy for local businesses to set up an online store, homerun businesses and local storefronts. What if we could help promote them and see them flourish? What if consumers could search for what they want by their location and find what they are looking for in their own community? What if we could get everyone in one space?

What if it were all at your fingertips and you could find all these things from the comfort of your home, in a local marketplace. A local marketplace that is passionate about creating a community that is empowered to sell and shop in their own neighborhood, their unique community, and all that it has to offer! So here we are, hoping that you share our vision and excitement for this opportunity to support and promote local communities and neighbors doing what they love and do best.

We had this idea long before COVID, but we were all working full time. When COVD hit, we decided we had to move forward to support our communities. Local Street launched in early 2021, with Desiree de Barros and Tina Hercules, mother and daughter in law at the forefront of the business. Our initial focus was small businesses without a website as we felt they could not compete during the pandemic without an online presence, We quickly realized that we could not create a holistic local marketplace without including everything local – brick and mortar (storefronts), products, and services, and businesses with and without a website.

We also quickly realized how much small local businesses felt isolated, and needed a supportive community to help them grow and thrive. It’s really hard for small businesses to get their name out there without the marketing budgets that larger companies have, Local Street brings these local businesses together by creating opportunities for exposure (social media, marketing, podcasts, etc.) collaborations, networking, and education. Additionally, we provide personal support to those that need help setting up their profile/storefront.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s challenging as a new business to create awareness and trust, Through networking and social media, we were able to find a supportive and growing business network that shares the “buy local by local” vision. Persistence and commitment are needed every day to continue to get our message out and advocate for shop local.

As entrepreneurs of a start-up, we wear every hat. It’s busy, and we have to stay super focused and organized to make sure we stay on top of our business plan and goals.

We’ve been impressed with Local Street Marketplace, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Local Street is a local online marketplace where customers can search by their location, by local directories, or by interest to find what they are looking for in their own communities, keeping dollars in their local economy. It is like an online mall for locals!

What are we known for? We are known for our commitment to supporting our business community, and as advocates in the “shop local” movement. We have also recently been featured advocating for women, speaking about the impacts of COVID on employment during lockdowns and school/daycare closures resulting in a growth of online and home-based businesses created by women. These home-based businesses offer the flexibility needed in a time of uncertainty while providing additional household income.

What sets us apart from others is the one-to-one personal and ongoing support that we give to businesses that join our platform. There are many people that are not comfortable setting up a website because it is intimidating if you are not tech-savvy, and a lot to manage on an ongoing basis. In this case, we manage the website, offer one-to-one support in setting up on Local Street, and teach businesses how to manage their store and products. We take time to learn about who they are, what they do, and how they got started. We are always looking for ways to collaborate, network, educate, market and highlight our businesses.

What also sets us apart is that we offer an inclusive platform that allows all local businesses to join. We highlight their products and services and allow them to be easily found by their communities. Businesses without a website or storefront can set up a store and. Have their customers check out on Local Street. Services are welcome to set up a store and utilize our scheduling application if it is helpful for them. People with websites can set up a store and link their products to their own website for customer checkout.

What we are most proud of brand-wise is the sense of community that we have built into our brand. We have been recognized for our commitment to our communities, and as allies to the small business community. We love to collaborate and support where we can, whether it is volunteering and donating to local charities and initiatives, providing support, referrals, and feedback to people in our network, and creating awareness in the community about local business offerings.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Networking with like-minded people/businesses has been integral to building relationships and in getting our name out as well as learning about resources, education opportunities, and meeting some fantastic allies in business.

It doesn’t happen overnight! It takes commitment, and time to build brand recognition and trust.

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