Hannah Holdsworth of Beacon recently launched ShoutingDistance.com, a directory of small businesses in the Hudson Valley.
What’s the site all about?
It’s a tool to make it a lot easier to support local businesses. We’re still in the first phase, but what I want is for this to be a place where, if there’s something you need, you can see if it’s available locally before you go online and buy from a national retailer. Often, people either don’t know that a store is there or they don’t know what it sells. For instance, recently I was in Cold Spring with my kids, and they asked to go into Kismet. We went in and I was surprised to find they had toys. Considering that a toy store [Echo] just closed in Beacon, that is good to know. There is such a diverse range of goods available nearby — from appliances to shoes to handmade items.
Where do you focus, geographically?
We started in Beacon — I moved here with my family from Brooklyn a year and a half ago, but we’ve extended, more or less, from Peekskill and Warwick up to Hudson. My sister lives in Kingston, and she’s helped in that region.
Where did the idea come from?
When I was growing up in Delaware, my mom loved shopping at small, local stores. I carried that with me and made a conscious choice to use the resources around me and not shop online. I had the idea in Brooklyn but it seemed like a big undertaking. When we moved to Beacon I explored it more. Strangely enough, the pandemic gave me more time to focus on it. When stores had to shut down, that solidified it for me, seeing how many were struggling.
Though I couldn’t go around to all the stores personally, I did have more time to work on things like design and marketing: What do I name this? How do I kind of brand it? I’ve been doing graphic design for 20 years, so for me that was the easiest place to start. I made a spreadsheet and went to Instagram, finding places. It’s important that businesses trust my motivation — that I want to support them and also to help people who live here to know what’s available.
The next phase is a marketplace with actual products and not just descriptions. Store owners will be able to put in as much or as little of their inventory as they like. I’m working on creating tools to make it easy to link inventory; small businesses don’t have time for all of those details.
Shouting Distance would operate on the revenue generated from a reasonable commission when items are sold. Listing items would be free. I know many small businesses operate on slim margins. The possibilities are endless when you start thinking about collections that could be put together. I’m also in the early stages of putting together a similar list for services such as restaurants, boutique gyms, things like that, and also, for example, people who run jewelry businesses out of their homes, even if only online.
What’s the response been like?
I’ve gotten great feedback from people using the site and businesses. The shops are grateful for any other outlets that get their names out there. When I started this, the main thought was to support businesses, but the other side of this is supporting people in the community by providing easier access to what’s happening around them.