PHOENIX — In a normal year, small businesses in Arizona would rely on foot traffic into their stores or festivals where they could interact with customers.
With a global pandemic, this is not a normal year.
That is why Local First Arizona says they started an online website featuring hundreds of local vendors and products to buy.
It's called the Shop Arizona Marketplace.
"It sounds so like cliché to think about a diaper bag as being life-changing," said Deileta Kamhunga. "It sounds weird, right?"
She became a business owner from necessity.
"As a mother, you had your purse… I was breast-feeding, so I had my daughter's pump," Kamhunga explained. "That was a separate bag from the milk, which was a cooler and it was like, a mess."
Kamhunga and her husband struggled to carry everything they needed for their little family on trips and outings.
"So, this is the Ultimate Parent Backpack," Kamhunga said as she started to show the Rebound Arizona her product. "... this is like your main compartment. It's like mom's purse. So, this was like my purse. I need a little section for myself."
Kamhunga launched Elev8ed Cre8ion a few years ago in their Tempe home. The Ultimate Parent Backpack is a laptop bag, a diaper bag, and a travel bag in one.
It is one of the 500 items over 100 businesses have put up to sell in the new Shop Arizona Marketplace.
"Maybe you're not ready to go out and shop in-person yet or maybe you want to avoid big crowds this holiday season… You can go online and still keep your money at home supporting local businesses," said Thomas Barr.
Barr is the Executive Director of Local First Arizona, which is a statewide organization that provides resources to over 3,000 small businesses.
Local First Arizona partnered with Ideas Collide, a local marketing firm, to get this website for small businesses up and running this holiday season.
This website is also unique to other e-commerce platforms.
Barr said, they will be giving 100% of sales directly to the business.
There is an option to donate to Local First Arizona, but it is not required to make a purchase.
"Entrepreneurs and small business are the most hard-working, adaptive, and creative collective of people that exist," Barr said. "But, there's also a long road ahead."
The Rebound Arizona asked Kamhunga what she would say to people to encourage them to log-on to the site and support small businesses.
"If you only knew how much work and dedication goes into all the things that we do to create these products for your families… You would spend all your money with us," Kamhunga laughed.
Arizonans can start browsing right now and create a gift wish list. To start looking, click here.
Kamhunga has dropped the price of their Ultimate Parent Backpack by 30%. If you want to view her product, click here.
The site officially launches on Monday.
"Macy's will be okay. Walmart will definitely be okay," Kamhunga said. "But... we need your support."