A website intended to be the first Lancaster County-wide online marketplace is headed for a June debut, its founders say.
"Shop Lancaster will draw in locals and tourists to shop authentic Lancaster County retailers, artists, and handcrafters all from the same place," said Stacia Sleight, who co-founded the site with Ryan Fredericks. "Our goal is to increase shopping locally by making Lancaster products and services available for anyone to purchase, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! We are a multi-vendor e-commerce store that features handmade goods, fine art, small brand clothing, vintage items, local services and gourmet foods from small business owners, entrepreneurs and artists throughout Lancaster County."
Sleight said inspiration for the venture came after moving to Lancaster a little more than a year ago and falling in love with area — but not the fact that many stores sported "Closed" signs after she got out of work at 5 or 6 p.m.
"Instead of longing for later store hours, we came up with a solution that gives business owners their well-deserved time home with their families," she said. "A way that they can keep selling their merchandise after they've flipped their signs to 'Closed.' A way to help entrepreneurs start their journey into business ownership. And a way to create the same exposure and accessibility for our small businesses that big box retailers have."
Sleight said that in addition to serving as a shopping and selling platform, the site also is working with the Lancaster County Community Foundation to bring exposure and crowdfunding to deserving organizations. The site also is intended to bolster tourism by giving potential visitors an advance look at what the area offers.
The shop is in the final stages of development and vendor registration is expected to open soon, Sleight said.