Business

Ground Floor: Cedar Rapids Marketplace creates a virtual farmers market

Site offers online marketing for Iowa vendors

Some of the custom hair bows made by Cherie Edilson are seen on a display. Edilson and her husband Robert set up the website www.cedarrapidsmarketplace.com where the hair bows and other accessories as well as products by several area vendors who also make merchandise in their own homes are sold. Photographed in Marion, Iowa, on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Some of the custom hair bows made by Cherie Edilson are seen on a display. Edilson and her husband Robert set up the website www.cedarrapidsmarketplace.com where the hair bows and other accessories as well as products by several area vendors who also make merchandise in their own homes are sold. Photographed in Marion, Iowa, on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A new Cedar Rapids business has created a virtual farmers market for local vendors and their customers.

After the birth of her second child, Cherie Edilson became a stay-at-home mom looking for a hobby.

“It was the dawn of Pinterest, and it was super new and exciting to scroll through the pins,” she recalled.

From Pinterest, Edilson got the idea to make hairbows. Although she had two boys at home, she had friends with girls and started making bows for them. About a month later, husband Rob, a web developer, helped her turn her hobby into a business.

That first business, the Pink Barrette, started in 2012.

Edilson was selling her creations online and at farmers markets and craft fairs when she was approached by Amazon.com to be a part of the online retailer’s new Handmade at Amazon site.

“They helped get me set up and running to sell on Amazon, and it became a good source of income,” she said.

Rob Edilson takes credit for the idea that led to the couple’s new business, Cedar Rapids Marketplace.

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He said it came to him while brainstorming at lunch one day. Inspired by his wife’s stories of the people she met at markets and craft fairs, he came up with an idea for a business that combined her online sales experience with his web development and marketing skills.

“We could build something more local focused on telling the stories of local artists and craftspeople,” he said, “something that would allow them to get started with a business without web experience.”

The Edilsons launched Cedar Rapids Marketplace in February.

The website operates much like other online marketplaces, such as Etsy or eBay, except with a local focus. All vendors are located in Iowa, most within a 25-mile radius of Cedar Rapids.

Vendors may choose from two plans: with no monthly fee but charges 10 percent commission on each sale, or has a monthly fee of $15 but charges no commission on sales. Neither plan charges a product listing fee.

The website also offers a directory of local businesses. A standard listing is free, or for a small monthly fee, businesses are promoted on the website and social media channels.

Cedar Rapids Marketplace currently has 26 vendors selling products on the site. The Edilsons said their short-term goal is to increase that number to 100 in the next year or two.

“The power is in the numbers,” Cherie Edilson said. “The more unique businesses on the site, the more it will help drive traffic to other vendors on the site.”

“Our goal is to build a community centered around local shopping,” Rob Edilson added. “We want to help local entrepreneurs build their businesses.”

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AT A GLANCE

Owners: Cherie and Rob Edilson

Business: Cedar Rapids Marketplace

Email: info@cedarrapidsmarketplace.com

Telephone: (319) 318-2209

Website: www.cedarrapidsmarketplace.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/crmarketplace

Know a business in operation for less than a year that would make a good “Ground Floor”? Contact michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com

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