The local economy needs support more than ever and one of the most impactful ways you can make a difference is buying from Valley businesses so a majority of that revenue stays in Arizona.  Made with Love Market, which hosts a market every Saturday in Gilbert for local vendors selling clothing, home decor, jewelry, beauty and bath products, gifts, baby items and food and beverage, is helping Valley businesses sell their products through their recently-launched online marketplace.

Made with Love Market co-owners Cody Waltz and Maribeth Sublette established the market in 2018 and had a successful first season in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019, in addition to Fall 2019 and part of Spring 2020 until COVID-19 postponed their remaining spring events since March 14.

Waltz and Sublette are confident they will be able to host their markets for their Fall dates.

Until then, the business owners launched their online marketplace in mid-March with over 120 vendors selling over 2,000 products. Since launching the online marketplace, they have received an abundance of positive feedback from vendors and customers alike.

Sublette said though they were planning on creating an online component for Made with Love Market, they weren’t expecting to do it as suddenly as circumstances demanded.

“We knew that our vendors would need something to sustain them through this time and we thought this was the perfect time to launch the online marketplace,” Sublette said. “It took three long, stressful days to get the Made with Love online marketplace up and live.”

Since launching in March they’ve added new features and updates like adding categories so people can search for products based on categories.

“The vendors have been really excited, a lot of them lost their full-time jobs and also are running their shop, and quite a few vendors used the markets as most of their income revenue, so by postponing the markets, they lost a significant amount of money; many vendors have said the online marketplace has helped them stay afloat,” Waltz said. 

“The customers have been so supportive, we have our Made with Love fans that we see every Saturday for our drive-thru pickup at Swimhaus Gilbert,” Waltz said, who along with Sublette set up a table out front of Swimhaus Swim School with products for customers to pick up.

“The customers really have been wonderful, especially in the first few weeks, whether they bought one thing or 10, many of them said, ‘thank you so much for doing this, we miss Made with Love, we miss our vendors and we miss being able to support our local community members’ and a lot of them were really excited that they had a different option other than Amazon that kept a lot of their dollar in the local economy, so that meant a ton to us,” Sublette said.

Although their online marketplace isn’t generating as much revenue for vendors as their in person markets, Waltz said the items purchased have helped them pay bills or have extra money needed and it’s keeping that money in the local community.

The online marketplace has also given an opportunity to additional vendors who weren’t able to get a booth for Made with Love Market’s sold out Spring dates, as they can have their products included online and access to Made with Love’s strong community of customers and other vendors.

“I read a article that said that when you purchase something from a local business, 68 cents of your dollar stays in the local economy, as opposed to 14 cents of your dollar when you shop at a big box retailer,” Sublette said. “So having that extra 54 cents in the local economy is massively important in our community being able to bounce back, so our vendors really support each other.

“Cody and I feel a great responsibility to help provide for our vendors, as they make a lot of money at Made with Love because they are so heavily attended and COVID-19 came out of nowhere,” Sublette said. “For a lot of our vendors, especially those that were signed up for every single market that we have, they know how much they’re going to make at each market, and they can count on it, so having that rug pulled out from under them was a big deal for a lot of them.

“It was a big deal for us to be able to leverage our community that we have to help our vendors because we really do have such a phenomenal following and they’re loyal and supportive and they’re cheerleaders of ours and our vendors, so we knew they would want to help, we just had to figure out how to make it happen,” Sublette said.

In addition to offering their vendor’s products through their online marketplace and pickup for customers, Waltz and Sublette are maintaining and growing their social media presence to stay connected to their 17.5K followers on Instagram, most of which are local.

Sublette, who leads Made with Love Market’s social media efforts, said prior to COVID-19 their goal with social media was to “show the community what they could expect and what the experience is like at a Made with Love Market and we would highlight products,” which were targeted towards getting people to attend the markets, Sublette said.

However, now that their remaining spring market dates have been postponed, Sublette said they have been telling vendor stories on Instagram via a Meet the Maker idea since mid-May, where they highlight two vendors each week about how they make their products, who they are and why they started their business.

“We have loved being able to connect our social media following with the vendors,” Sublette said. “One of the big driving forces behind many people purchasing items made by Made with Love vendors, is the vendors themselves. They like connecting with the person that created their hand cream or made a t-shirt for their child or baked a cookie they’re giving their mom– there’s more of a connection there, so trying to navigate how to do that effectively has been interesting for us.”

The duo have also been using the swipe up feature in their Instagram stories more frequently to highlight vendor’s products and make it easier for followers and customers to view and potentially purchase the item with one click.

The business owners are planning on resuming their markets in the fall. They are also planning on hosting a Back to School market July 24-26 at SanTan Village in Gilbert and Made with Love Market at WestWorld in Scottsdale on August 29 and 30 with protocols in place including pickup options for the back to school market and further spacing out vendors at markets. 

Although they are anticipating holding their markets in person in the coming months, Waltz and Sublette have been working closely with the Town of Gilbert in communication about the possibility and capacity for larger events and want to continue to grow their online marketplace until then and afterward.

“We do feel confident since our typical space is outdoors and we have a few things in mind for making people feel safer in general, we’ll be spreading vendors out and that type of thing,” Waltz said. “And then we would love to continue to see our online market grow for people who maybe aren’t feeling like they’re ready to venture out yet to an event. We always want everybody to feel safe, and also have that opportunity to go whichever direction they feel is best for them.”

Sublette said prior to starting the online marketplace, they would hear from social media followers that they wish they had something like a Made with Love Market in other cities like Denver or Austin. “So in starting this online marketplace, we are so excited that we are now no longer geographically limited, people from across the country can and have now supported Made with Love and Made with Love vendors,” Sublette said, “which is amazing for our vendors especially now that they need that broader audience so that’s been really cool, we definitely want to continue to spread our influence and get eyes on what we and our vendors have to offer from people that live all over the place.”