Sillable is an app to find and support local businesses near you.
Hi, we’re willing to bet that you found yourself in the right place. In 2022, almost half of U.S. consumers wanted to buy less from Amazon, so if you’re also someone whose heart wants to support local businesses, but whose decisions are confined to giant online retailers, we’d be right.
We’ll be using this blog to share our other bets, mostly about the local marketplace app we’re building. Our launch is coming up, so we’ll keep you updated there. More importantly, we’re excited to share on here the stories and products of the amazing New Haven stores we’re working with. That’s coming in the Store Spotlight Series.
1. Origin Story
Before we even go into what Sillable does, you need to know what kicked it off: Aaron’s frustration. One of our co-founders, Aaron, needed to get his hands on an extra piece of luggage when moving out of college.
There weren’t any on Facebook marketplace, so he went to a couple of local stores with no luck. Googling “where to buy luggage near me” turned up Amazon or Walmart which were out of stock or took too long to ship. Plus, buying from Amazon always made him feel guilty, he thought surely there should be a place to find who sold what near you and buy local…
2. Previous experience
For the two years prior, Aaron’s work had been building and hosting websites for small businesses, so he knew there was demand there for websites. Most independent retailers either don’t have time and money to hire developers, or are overcharged for a shoddy job. Even when they get a website built, search results favor large sellers with highly sophisticated in-house software teams and tens of thousands to spend on advertising. This led him to start thinking of a two-way solution: help consumers buy local and help local stores sell online.
3. Talking to Stores
Aaron and his friend Burton talked to around 60 brick-and-mortar storeowners all around New Haven, CT and parts of Brooklyn, NY. They asked if the owners would be interested in a new way to reach local consumers online.
The two had planned to explain that getting delivery during COVID had gotten people used to online shopping, that young people spend so much time on their phones, etc. etc. but almost every store they went into, they found that they didn’t need to explain much at all. The storeowners understood the importance of getting online, often much more than they did. If brick-and-mortar retail were to compete with Amazon and now Temu, frankly, there was little choice.
So Aaron and Burton began first workshopping ideas with the storeowners, then getting direct feedback on Figma mockups. One store has taken the time to sit down with us from Day 1 to now. They’re a big source of our motivation to launch Sillable.
4. Team Alignment
Wanting to work on something that directly puts money into local businesses is what brought Aaron and burton together with Lele. We introduce ourselves here. Our trio believes that buying local is super good for our communities, overseas factory workers and the planet. Now imagine if you can do all that while windowshopping from your couch! Then when you find the perfect summer dress, you can go try it on. Why not also grab a special gift while you’re there: last-minute but hand-crafted.
In short, our team is aligned towards the vision of marrying the warmth and joy of shopping local with the convenience of shopping online.
Enough storytelling, the next post will introduce the local marketplace we’ve built. After that, we’ll do a few deep dives on supporting small businsses, both its economic benefit and the power in community bonding.