Over 80 Belfast companies have moved into the virtual world thanks to an initiative by Belfast City Council.
The ‘Buy Belfast’ virtual Christmas market was launched as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week and is already open to businesses across the region until Monday, December 20.
The goal of the program is to provide local businesses and entrepreneurs with a platform to share and sell their products to more than 6,500 virtual buyers around the world.
This is the second time the initiative has been launched, and marketers are hoping it will be as successful as last year with even more businesses and buyers.
Councilor Ryan Murphy, Chairman of Belfast City Council’s Growth and Regeneration Committee, praised the program as well as the hard work and commitment of the Economic Development team who have worked tirelessly throughout the current pandemic.
He said: “The past 18 or so months have been particularly difficult for small independent businesses and for many, being able to adapt and bring their businesses online and keep selling has been key to their survival.
“Our economic development team has worked hard throughout the ongoing pandemic to give businesses the support they need to adapt and grow their businesses, and the Virtual Marketplace is a fantastic initiative, bringing them all together under one same roof.
“The choice and range of what is on offer is truly impressive and I encourage people to shop locally where they can and show their support for these local businesses as Christmas approaches.”
As part of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week program, the Council gave a number of new businesses the opportunity to trade at St George’s Market, where they joined regular traders at ‘pop up stands. ” last Friday.
The new companies have set up their booth in the award-winning market, selling everything from fashion to flowers, scooters to silk pillowcases, art, brownies and pasture boxes.
For many, it was the first time they had traded.
Isaac Skillen, founder of start-up Bosh Bottles, is participating again this year, having successfully traded for the first time in the online marketplace last year.
“There are so many brilliant Belfast businesses that only sell as market vendors and the Buy Belfast Virtual Christmas Market provides a unique platform for businesses to move online and customers to support local vendors,” Isaac said.
“As a student startup business during the pandemic, the 2020 Virtual Christmas Market has been a huge boost to local exposure and sales for us as a business.
“The best part about this initiative are happy customers and happy local businesses – we really appreciate every customer who takes the time to view our products as gifts for their family and friends.
“We are delighted with this busy new Christmas season and hope that this year’s Buy Belfast virtual Christmas market will be as successful as last year. “
Maria O’Neill, founder of Pillowboxed, will be selling on the virtual market for the first time, having only started the business at the start of the year.
Excited to join the initiative, Maria added, “Pillowboxed is a pillowcase and silk products company, and we are only six months old.
“We jumped at the chance to participate in the Buy Belfast Christmas Market.
“It’s such a great innovation to combine online with local buying and hopefully we will find a lot of new customers. “
Any Belfast-based start-up that has been operating for less than three years as of November 2021 can participate in the virtual marketplace and sell your products / services to a captive audience for free.
To shop, search for “Shop Belfast Virtual Christmas Market” on Facebook.
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