Mpl. Retail Experts Launch Online Store For Small Retailers Spurred By COVID Economy


Former Target executives Chris Walton and Anne Mezzenga have moved from working in big box stores to thinking about how they can better market products made by small, local retailers.

In time for the holiday rush and small business Saturday, the couple launched a web portal,, to help consumers shop online at small retailers in Twin Cities. Walton and Mezzenga hope to expand the network to other Midwestern subways.

“People care about shopping safely. I think people are concerned about their small businesses as well, how do they continue to support them, especially in Minneapolis given everything that has happened over the summer, ”Walton said. “We wanted to create something for them in that vein using our experience in technology and retail. “

Urban Rooster recently showcased a dozen Twin Cities boutiques, including sock and clothing company Hippy Feet, Arway bags and accessories, and Muddy Mouth cards. Shoppers can also browse products recommended by Twin Cities influencers such as restaurateur Justin Sutherland.

Urban Rooster charges the retailer a small percentage of each sale to cover the costs of maintaining the site. The majority of the expense money during the holiday season is donated to non-profit organizations Best Christmas ever to help deliver vacation experiences to economically struggling families, Mezzenga said.

“In the future, that may change, but for now we are focused on giving back to our community,” she said.

There has been an increase in temporary local pop-up markets as well as more permanent in-person stores that feature local manufacturers.

The Mall of America has experimented with pop-up retail for years, and this fall launched a showcase for small businesses owned by women and people of color called Community Commons.

Rosedale Center’s Rose & Loon store features a rotating collective of local artisans. However, most of the products are not available on one website to buy online.

“These are great,” Walton said of the in-person pop-ups. “But they’re physical, so the point of what we were trying to do was figure out how to create something similar but do it online… because with the pandemic, the physicality of it can be crippling for a lot of people.”

At Urban Rooster, the checkout process is streamlined so shoppers can easily browse by category, store or influencer and make purchases without having to click through individual store sites, Walton said.

Walton and Mezzenga left Target in 2017 after working on the innovation concept for the retailer’s future store. They came together to host the retail blog and Omni Talk podcast, and last year the two launched their own dedicated retail lab and collaborative workspace called Third Haus in southern Minneapolis.

In the second phase of Urban Rooster, the duo would like to expand to include other Midwestern cities such as Des Moines, Iowa; Detroit; and Omaha, Neb. A possible next step could be to add physical space, possibly using its Third Haus location, Walton said.

This holiday season, consumers are expected to buy more online as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose a threat to the safety of the general public. While past data showed there would be muted overall demand for gifts this Black Friday and the rest of the season due to the virus and the economy, some recent numbers have been more optimistic about spending growth. vacation.

On Monday, the National Retail Federation predicted that November and December holiday sales would increase between 3.6% and 5.2% from a year ago for total spending to reach $ 766.7 billion.

The forecast growth could be an increase from the average 3.5% jump in holiday sales the country has seen over the past five years.


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