The run-up to Christmas means plenty of business for both big retail store chains and owner-run businesses. But discount days like Black Friday, usually held after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, are making life tough for small businesses. A Hamburg-based start-up, Findeling, has set up a platform to shine the spotlight on owner-run design stores and bookshops throughout the year and not just in the pre-Christmas shopping season. The founders of Findeling, Katharina Walter and Florian Schneider, launched the website in early 2015. Now users can find all kinds of interesting stores with their app.
Launching a shop recommender
The application works like the Instagram app, said Walter, adding: “The owners can use Findeling intuitively and without too much effort and post photos of their latest products.” The app is updated regularly and a shop recommender has recently been launched as well. The new tool suggests shops suited to the customer based on the generated data. Purchases can be done right on the app in future. As a first step, online products offered by small shops can be bought now using the app. And soon users will be able to chat online and reserve their preferred products.
Special focus on slow fashion
Walter noted: “Last year, plenty happened in online platforms for local businesses.” Meanwhile, around 40 to 50 similar concepts exist in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. “Our unique selling point is the special focus on sustainable products and slow fashion,” she added. The app uses filters and quality seals such as “bio”, “vegan”, “handmade” or “upcycling” to guide users to products and shops. The users can also follow the posted shops creating a network between owners and customers.
Motto “Buy Local!”
The Findeling team now has three permanent employees and holds events like the “Christmas Shopping Special” on December 1. More than 150 owner-run businesses including 60 in Hamburg are opening their doors on Thursday evenings until 10 pm for Xmas shopping. A Findeling voucher has been available since December. Shoppers can try gifting these vouchers at Christmas. They can be used according to the motto “Buy Local” in hundreds of participating shops in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne.
Over 700 participating shops
Findeling came to life in Hamburg even though Schneider and Walter completed their M.A.s in Cologne. “People in Hamburg are very patriotic and support local trade,” Walter noted. Thus Hamburg was their first choice. Meanwhile, the Findeling team has expanded their network and 700 owner-run shops including 400 in Hamburg, and others in Berlin and Cologne are taking part. Now, Findeling is eyeing Stuttgart and Munich as well. “Then we would like to gain a footing in other large European cities,” Walter said optimistically.