FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- In a year where small businesses have been hit hard, shopping local becomes even more critical to the survival of our small businesses; especially as the holiday season ramps up.
For one Fort Collins woman, supporting small businesses meant starting her own.
Aisha Martinek thought of the idea after walking around Old Town Fort Collins and seeing establishments that were closing or reducing their hours because of the pandemic.
“I just thought the reason that I wanted to settle in Fort Collins and in Northern Colorado was the small business community, and I didn't want to permanently lose that,” said Martinek.
Even after becoming a new mother in October, Martinek began working on her project that she called NOCO Boxes. She saw the need for convenient online shopping experience and wanted to help retailers, especially ones who weren’t as up to date with their digital presence.
“I thought, 'If I could do a one-click add to cart and support small businesses at the same time, I would do it in a heartbeat,' and I didn't know of anyone doing that locally,” Martinek said.
Working from a make-shift workshop set up in her basement, Martinek is boxing, wrapping, and shipping the products while completely funding the business herself.
She has created two boxes so far for the months of November and December, each featuring four to five local products. One of the businesses, Copoco’s Honey of Fort Collins, knows how critical the “buy local” message is.
“When people who shop local... their money stays in the community and it recirculates many more times,” said Benjamin Gilmore, manager of Copoco’s Honey.
Martinek also designed and includes a brochure with each box, showing names and faces of the business owners that are being supported with each purchase.
“I think Fort Collins, the reason why it's consistently ranked up there in #1 places to live and this whole surrounding area, it's because there are so many special people here and they make wonderful products,” said Martinek. “They make people happy with their small businesses and they’re artisans, they’re crafters.”
By choosing products that people are interested in, Martinek hopes that these boxes showcase a small part of what makes Northern Colorado unique.
“I want to make sure that the reasons that I fell in love with Northern Colorado and Fort Collins, they stay,” Martinek said.
If you'd like to support local businesses in Northern Colorado, you can purchase a NOCO Box here.