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E-Commerce Site Courts IBDs

Published September 27, 2011

CHICAGO, IL (BRAIN)—E-commerce site Little Independent is seeking independent bike dealers that want to promote their stores and get discounted merchandise in front of a broader market of consumers.

The site launched June 1, but “we were really busy during that time of year, and we figured other dealers were too. That’s why we decided to wait until fall to reach out,” said Lesley Tweedie, who owns Chicago, Illinois-based Little Independent and dealer Roscoe Village Bikes with husband Alex Tweedie.

Little Independent is an online marketplace where all items for sale are offered by independent brick-and-mortar retailers. Retailers can sell any items discounted at least 10 percent off their original price. The company’s mission is to be an advocate for independent retailers and to give shoppers an easier way to find independent stores and sale merchandise.

“Any brick-and-mortar retailer can create a profile, and then when they have an item on their sale rack, they can create a listing and upload a photo of the item,” Tweedie said. “There’s no fee to create a store profile, and there are three free listings.” After that, fees are $3 for an individual 30-day listing, $12.50 for five listings, $40 for 20, and $75 for 50.

If a retailer already has its own e-commerce site, the store can link to it from its Little Independent profile, Tweedie added.

Little Independent has sales channels for a variety of retailers, including books and music, electronics, apparel, home décor, gourmet food and wine, and gifts and stationery. Roscoe Village Bikes currently is the sole retailer in the bicycle, skateboard and ski channel, but Tweedie said Little Independent has verbal commitments from two other Chicago-area bike shops and has been seeking out more local partners as cyclocross season ramps up.

Overall, Little Independent has 43 retailers on the site. All are based in Illinois—“You always start in your own back yard,” Tweedie said—but the company is looking to grow its business nationally.

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