Friday, October 15, 2010

Turning Business Owners Into Stars of Their Own Stories

Once upon a time in Chicago, there lived a man named Abe. He owned a neighborhood pharmacy, Polin Drugs, and worked behind the counter. His father and two sons lent a hand. When people could not afford doctors during the Great Depression, they scraped by on Abe’s free advice. He kept the doors open until midnight. He knew his customers by name.

Two generations later, Abe — or at least this sepia-toned snapshot of him — is the figurehead of an online venture in a world he would not recognize, invoked by a grandson he did not live long enough to meet.

That venture is Abe’s Market, an e-commerce hub that opened in October 2009 and sells natural, organic and eco-friendly products from more than 180 small businesses around the country. The Web site’s founders — Jon Polin, 40, and Richard Demb, 33, Chicago entrepreneurs and longtime friends — say they believe they can offer customers something that eBay and Amazon cannot.

Their secret weapon? Stories about decent, hardworking people — people like Abe, Mr. Polin’s grandfather.

Abe is a throwback to a world before globalization, to a time when economies were local and transactions were slow, face-to-face and personal. Today, much of commerce feels anonymous. The retail landscape is crowded with big-box stores. Online sales surpassed $155 billion last year and are continuing to grow, according to Forrester Research.

To read more:

Link to the store, mentioned in the article:

Think this is a very good idea, also useful for our future business to give a face and a story to the products we also might sell online...

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