99¢ for the first month
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Community support: Site started to encourage Shawnee shopping

Vicky O. Misa

As shelter-at-home directives continue to keep residents away from routine visits to local businesses — due to the threat of spreading COVID-19, the economic stability of the area is becoming increasingly upended.

Shawnee leaders — and business owners alike — are encouraging residents to support local stores as best they can from their couches.

A new website underway is specifically geared toward shopping Shawnee —

“As the Covid-19 situation develops within our community, our resiliency relies on the health and well-being of its members,” the website reads. “While we may be feeling isolated, there’s a lot we can do to be good neighbors, support local businesses, and think local first.”

The site was created as a way for residents to support Shawnee merchants while residents stay home to keep friends and family safe and healthy.

The website, created by Lee Williams, is intended to make it easier for residents to spend their dollars in town, even if they can't go out.

In a collaborative effort by local businesses, various packages are being offered — filled with items gathered from around town.

For example, an offering called Eats and Treats has a call-in card from Paul's Place Steakhouse, a bottle of wine from Broadway Liquor, a candle and wick trimmer from Wystle, a bottle of Kinyon's Elite Sauce from Elite Cafe, and Niven Morgan Bath Salts from Denoda Rutherford Shelter Insurance — as well as a surprise item.

Boxes of children's activities, self care, and how to start a side business are available, also.

So far, a slideshow on the site offers a tour of more than a dozen participating local businesses, along with a short profile about each of them.

There is a form available on the site for local business owners seeking to join the effort.

Williams said he started a Digital Studio in Shawnee almost a year ago.

“We set up some e-commerce and marketing systems for a couple of local businesses,” he said. “When thinking through what might help a couple of them, it occurred to me that the gift box business model could be an option — just like Blue Apron, or Fab, Fit and Fun, or Bespoke, why not a Hometown Box?”

Williams said when he saw colleagues in California and Oklahoma City embrace the idea for local business revenue during this trying time, he thought it would be a good time to push the concept with Shawnee Forward and the local businesses that were going through the changes in Shawnee.

“We got attention and help putting something together right away,” he said.

Williams got the site up and running about a week and a half ago and then started promoting it last week.

He said his goal is to have a permanent hometown experience available to deliver or ship.

He said there are two key things we have learned while putting it together and in talking to local businesses. “One is that local shops could use a new revenue stream or help getting online, especially now — it’s just good timing,” he said. “And two, is that this is going to be needed across middle America.”

Williams said he believes the impact of the shut-down on local shops and hometowns across the country is going to be devastating.

“We can help transform them and mitigate that by helping them find a home for their products and services online,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want part of the Shawnee experience delivered to their door?”

To shop, add your business or get more information, visit