Online market launched as small business hit by virus

A CONCERNED Gladstone mother has launched an online market in a bid to help hers and other small businesses ahead of uncertain times due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Owner of AmmyLou Boutique, Hannah Jackson, will launch Gladstone's first Online Virtual Market this Saturday, ahead of more events being cancelled due to the virus.

For the past six months Ms Jackson's main source of income has been from attending markets and selling handmade goods including hair accessories and key rings from her stall AmmyLou Boutique.

With events including Feast on East cancelled, Ms Jackson said the virtual market would help stallholders and businesses sell their products from the comfort of their own homes.

She said as of yesterday the Facebook group, Virtual Markets Gladstone 4680, had a reach of about 1000 people, with some customers registered from regions outside Gladstone.

"There are so many people who have expressed concern that this (coronavirus outbreak) could see them close their business," she said.

"I'm feeling those stresses too."

Hannah Jackson is launching an online market to help small market stallholders while events are cancelled due to the Coronavirus.
Hannah Jackson is launching an online market to help small market stallholders while events are cancelled due to the Coronavirus.

She said hosting the market via a Facebook group would restrict person-to-person contact, a concern of Ms Jackon's recently given her autoimmune disease and her son's asthma.

After spending two years trialling medications for her psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and Crohn's disease, Ms Jackson has recently started an immune-suppressing injection to control her symptoms.

While the injection eases her symptoms, it also means she's more susceptible to viruses and flus.

The market will be held on the Facebook group Virtual Markets Gladstone 4680.

Feast on East, held at East Shores.
Feast on East, held at East Shores.

Stallholders must register before Saturday and can post on the group once with information about their business, payment options and delivery and pick-up preferences.

Each stall can communicate with customers via their post thread.

Ms Jackson said she was thankful for help from Joanna from Raphael St Candle Co, who is assisting with this weekend's market.

Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Joe Smith said the virtual market could help the region's small businesses during a challenging time.

"I think it's a good idea, especially if it can be expanded in concept to not just market businesses but essentially every local business that may have a shopfront as well," he said.

Mr Smith said already businesses were urging customers not to come in store if they had been sick recently, and others were encouraging customers to use hand sanitiser.

"It's a fine balance because these businesses want to protect employees while they also want to keep it running as close to normal as possible," he said.

"This has already had a significant effect on some local businesses."

Mr Smith encouraged businesses to consult with their advisers and to see if they were eligible for any government stimulus packages and for residents to buy locally.

"We need to try to keep everyone ticking over," he said.

"If there's any businesses in trouble we need to band together to help them out … it's about community spirit."