2020 hasn’t exactly gone as anyone has planned, especially small businesses. When the city essentially shut down back in March, many local small vendors had to scramble to figure out what to do next, but for Clover Market that pivot had not just one small business relying on them, but dozens.
Clover Market debuted in 2010 to a provide a venue for independent artisans and antique dealers to connect with customers who love to shop small.
“We began in Ardmore, then eventually expanded to hold events in coordination with the local business districts in Bryn Mawr, Chestnut Hill, Colllingswood and Kennett Square,” says Janet Long, founder of Clover Market. “Over the years, we’ve provided a venue for hundreds and hundreds of small businesses to connect with customers who love to shop small. Our markets are curated, and we focus specifically on handmade goods and high-quality vintage finds.”
When large gatherings virtually became null, Long had to figure out a way to still find a place for talented vendors to showcase their goods safely. The solution came in the form of an online showcase, which now holds about 50 vendors who are participating with over 500 products.
“We have a really vibrant and talented vendor community from Virginia to Maine, and we’re proud to have played a small part in building a community that is passionate about supporting them,” continues Long. “Once COVID hit, it was clear that we would not be able to host our normal in-person markets in the spring due to restrictions on gatherings, which we supported 100%. We also felt that not holding the events was the best choice heading into the fall for the safety of our customers and vendors; we certainly didn’t want to play any part in the spread of COVID in the community. We typically host 10 markets a year plus an indoor holiday show, so it has definitely been a really challenging time for the business. So many of our vendors also depend on shows for their income as well, so it’s just a tough time overall for small businesses like ours.”
The digital Market still holds the unique items that Clover has become known for with everything from candles to soaps to apothecary to clothing, accessories, some vintage goods and everything in between. The quality and the selective nature of the company isn’t meant as a way to screen pricing or availability—it’s more of a way to showcase creative and unique finds from independent-minded creators. The decision to move online also may have been a bit premature then planned, but it also wasn’t completely out of left field.
“Honestly, it was something I had been thinking about for a long time, so the pandemic actually gave me the time and space to finally make it happen,” explains Long. “I’m thankful for that. I started with a small group of vendors who provided me with feedback and helped to test the site functionality, and then I launched the shop in late August. I’m excited to be bringing even more onboard as we zoom towards the holiday season, so many of the products that we feature are just perfect for gifts.”
There are also a few plus sides to shopping online at the new Clover Market beside the good deed of supporting some local vendors. Shipping is automatically free whether a customer buys from one brand or many—so price-wise what you see is what you get. Plus, the online store does involve some exclusivity when it comes to products being offered as well.
“All of the vendors have exclusive or one of a kind products which can only be found in our shop, so it’s definitely worth checking those out. We have a whole section on the site just for them,” says Long. “We’ve had some really cool exclusive products already, and I think it’s fun for the vendors to be able to launch a new collection, or even develop a new product to be included just with us. I [also] want people to know that we’re constantly bringing on new brands, and the vendors are adding new inventory, so the mix is always staying fresh.”
The after-effects of the pandemic have certainly left a mark on us all one way or another. However, with efforts to pivot, small businesses are certainly not all out of luck.
“It’s my hope that the shop will play a small part in helping our vendors make it through COVID, and that our customers will enjoy shopping safely from their sofas with many of the same vendors they know and love, and some new ones too. I’m also excited that now people who don’t live geographically close can shop from us too,” says Long. “Shopping with us online is a great way to continue to support small businesses, just like at our outdoor events.”
To learn more and to shop at Clover Market, visit theclovermarket.com