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  • Writer's pictureBill Hollingsworth

The online shopfront for Ireland’s temporarily shuttered shops.

How Shopfront Ireland came together.

When it was announced that the whole country was moving to level 5 from 22 October 2020, the bleak image of most of the shops with their shutters down in main streets, side streets and malls right across the country came into view.

Before the October Bank Holiday lots of voices were encouraging the people of Ireland to #BuyIrishOnline especially in the run up to Christmas – as it was a major chunk of retailers’ and producers’ annual revenue. There are many shops online, but it can be hard to find them. I realised there was a crucial link missing – where to find these producers and shops!

I decided to use the skills I had acquired over the last few years as a sole trader including a Digital Marketing Certificate from National College of Ireland and proficiency cert from Google Digital Garage to focus on getting shops visible online urgently.

Starting on the Bank Holiday weekend, I built a the bones of a website, then set up social media channels, registered URL and trading name & wrote the Escalator Pitch. Inspired by the poster 'Doors of Dublin' the website was originated to digitally open up the 'Shopfronts of Ireland' in one place. So I called it “Shopfront Ireland”. Soon there were 100+ shops (and growing daily)

Shopfront Ireland would be a virtual shopfront for as many local retailers and producers across the island of Ireland as possible. We would feature, and tell the stories of, various shops and the humans behind them.

Shopfront Ireland is now established as a platform. The website site received 1392 visits - mostly during the Christmas period. Instagram posted 650 times during the same period and now has 372 followers. Twitter is averaging 40 impressions per day. A company page has just been set up on Linkedin and has 130+ followers. Shopfront Ireland is open to everyone trading online on the island - and listing and linking is free. I’m delighted with the mix we have - some makers-at-home, some national brands, some well-known, some up-and-coming. This project has uncovered for me many people doing unexpected and often brilliant things. As the number of shops grows, I expect to be further surprised.

Change is constant. For the foreseeable future, it’s probable that we will all be doing things a little differently. As the number and variety of shops grows, so do the possibilities. There are many wonderful business futures ahead.

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