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Akron, Warren Tout Success of Year-Long eBay 'Retail Revival'

photo of eBay Retail Revival group
Officials from Akron, Warren and eBay celebrated the 12-month 'Retail Revival' program, which has since expanded to Michigan, South Carolina, Canada and Great Britain.

Organizers of the eBay-backed “Retail Revival” program closed their one-year mission Thursday with a look back at their successes – and what they learned – in Northeast Ohio.

The program launched last year and helped about 70 small businesses in Warren and Akron sell online more effectively. Chris Librie, eBay’s Head of Global Impact & Giving, says the most successful businesses were the ones that offered a unique slant on an existing product.

“People who’ve created their own cosmetics, their own skin-care products to their own fashion. You can go to a ladies’ clothing store anywhere, right? But if you have a point-of-view, you can really be something that becomes a destination, no matter where the person is doing their purchasing.”

Although the formal Retail Revival program was limited to 12 months, the company’s philanthropic foundation is giving a total of $70,000 in grants to two of its community partners here, The Well Community Development Corporation and CraftyMart. Heather Roszczyk is Akron’s innovation and entrepreneurship advocate.

“We are going to be concentrating existing resources – as well as providing new resources – to get businesses into the empty storefronts that are in those places.  So that we can make sure that they’re populated, and make sure that businesses have a clear path.  Maybe they went through the Retail Revival program, their business has grown as a result of that program, and now they’re looking to open a storefront.”

Organizers say that one of the lessons from the pilot program in Akron was to provide more one-on-one coaching for entrepreneurs, as opposed to broad-based webinars.