Meet The Founder
Michelle Wirth, Founder & CEO
Michelle Wirth, the founder of Feel Good, Shop Local, has been passionate about all things local throughout her successful marketing and entrepreneurial career (see: Mercedes-Benz of Springfield in Chicopee, MA). Her mission not only as a busy mom and business owner but as a consumer is to bring shopping locally to the forefront of the online shopping experience- make shopping locally simple and convenient. Her skills in bringing people together for a greater purpose have fueled this project from the beginning and continue to inspire the team and the community as we move forward together. She resides in Leeds, MA with her family.
Hello!! Thank you for being curious enough about feelgoodshoplocal.com to want to learn more. Here goes…
My husband and I moved to Western Mass 4-5 years ago. We opened Mercedes-Benz of Springfield in October 2017 and moved to Leeds in 2018 just in time for the new school year. We poured our hearts and souls and pretty much all our time and treasure into building the dealership. It has been quite a journey and we feel quite at home here – lucky to be welcomed with open arms by the Pioneer Valley community. We know firsthand that it matters when folks choose to shop local. We feel the support of our customers and community partners and we are so grateful. It takes guts and fortitude, grit and passion to conceive and then make a small business successful. We want to help local entrepreneurs thrive.
The idea for FeelGoodShopLocal.com was born in 2020. At one point during the pandemic, I remember I looked at my phone and wished there was a place I could visit where I could shop local stores easily. Like many others with limited options, a full time job and lots of children on zooms…I began to order everything we needed online. Amazon, Target, Walmart, Lands End, LL Bean, Nordstrom and other trusted brands were my go to destinations for consumer lifestyle goods. Online food delivery services made sure our food needs were taken care of…but as soon as we were venturing out of our homes, I began to notice the smaller, local stores were shutting down. Main Street was in trouble and it showed.
I first noticed when I went into my favorite local artisan gallery to shop and learned they would be closing after decades in business. Foot traffic to the store had slowed to a crawl and they no longer could afford their rent. I had an emotional response (sadness) and thought to myself “They need an always-on, online revenue stream.” When I mentioned this to the store owner, they said they didn’t have the time, know-how or treasure to implement an online store. I was so deeply affected by this…and sympathetic to the problem. How could I help?
We already were doing what we could to help support local business. My husband and I bought gift cards from local stores like so many others in a show of support and vote of confidence…we voted with our wallets and many of those stores were able to weather the drought of sales caused by the pandemic. But many, like the artisan gallery, didn’t pivot their business model to make the switch to online and decided to close their doors forever.
Q: How do you get local shoppers to choose local first?
A: Make it convenient. I don’t know about you, but for me shopping local takes effort. Let’s say I want to purchase a gift for a friend who is celebrating a job promotion. First, I have to have a good idea of what I want to get her. Then, I have to Google/Bing/Duck Duck Go places to get it or “ask around” for referrals from trusted friends and sources. NOTE: Google hardly ever returns search results highlighting local stores. Either these stores don’t have a website or they never claimed their business page or they don’t have the marketing budget or know-how to ensure their business ranks in first, second or even fifth place…and by then we have scrolled too far without a suitable answer to our gift-giving question and “move on”.
Say I was able to get a good lead on a store and I am successful in finding a place to try; it is hard to know before I go if they have what I am looking for, and if I do make the trip will I make it there before they close after work? Can I stop by and have them drop the package in my trunk like Target? Will they be closed or open? (Often their hours on Google/Bing are not reliable and I come up empty.) I simply don’t have the luxury of expending that time & energy…do you?
So I went on the hunt for an online platform…surely one existed…to shop local the way I shop Amazon or Etsy. I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t fun. It was a cumbersome, needle-in-a-haystack experience. And while it felt good to support small, I found it hard to ensure my money is staying local…within my Western Mass community.
Not having found what I was looking for, and with a clear idea of how I wanted this platform to function, I decided to create a platform to help me discover and shop local stores with ease – FeelGoodShopLocal.com – and ensure the goods are coming from within 40-50 miles of my hometown of Northampton. I feel it is important to open up the reach of our local stores. Folks in Longmeadow can easily shop stores in Easthampton, MA. Folks in Greenfield, MA can shop stores in Suffield, CT…all from the comfort of their couch, car or office and have those items shipped to the recipient of their choice.
There are so many wonderful artisans and boutique owners in the Pioneer Valley. There are even more unique goods they source or produce…the issue is knowing they exist, then being able to shop them conveniently. Our hope is that every time you visit FeelGoodShopLocal.com, you discover something new in our local community AND you can feel secure knowing every dollar is directly supporting the vitality of your local community.
We can’t do it without you. Share your knowledge. Recommend a store you would like to see on the platform. Share gift ideas for our gift guide. Let us do the heavy lifting on the online store and marketing… so store owners in our community can focus on running their business…and we get to benefit from the tremendous artistry and creativity of our friends and neighbors.
Small business needs to band together into a community and catch up to the big box stores in the online space. Consumers need a one-stop shop for their consumer lifestyle goods – fashion, jewelry, housewares, services, cosmetics, skincare, artisan pieces and so much more. I fashioned this site to function in a way that I would want to shop. Hopefully, you find it convenient and fun…and you come back often.
…Because it does feel really good to shop local.
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