PORTLAND, Ore — The pandemic has many of us shopping online, from everyday items to gifts and more. Instead of turning to big companies like Amazon, a Portland entrepreneur has created a new, local way, to shop online in the metropolitan area: Bindle PDX.
“What kind of environment do I want my child to be raised in?” Yoonjung Lee asked.
That’s the question at the center of Yoonjung Lee’s work in technology: How can tech make a better world for her young daughter?
“If I were to set an example for my child – as technology can do that – because technology is only going to be a more and more central part of her world, this was kind of the best place to do it,” she said.
Lee is using her skills to help makers in her community thrive through a new way of buying and selling. It’s a need that’s grown as small businesses struggle in the time of COVID-19, she said.
“We need to make sure our local businesses can weather the next however many months to years to come,” Lee said. “For us to see that end product, which is: all of this could be working a lot more seamlessly -- we first gotta try it out.”
Her solution: Bindle PDX. It’s a hyper-local online marketplace for small and micro-businesses. The website features aa range of products, from food to wellness items, and home décor.
“In some ways that interaction [buying and selling] is always going to be a part of the way that we live. So, how can I make that environment a little bit more conscientious?” Lee said.
Not only did Lee want to create an easy place for consumers to find locally made products, but her site also allows small and micro-businesses to find and connect with each other. Lee says it’s essential when delivering products and competition with big businesses like Amazon.
“So, based on this belief that we have everything that we need locally, it’s just really, really hard to discover those products and those brands,” she said. “And also, on the producer side, I just thought there was this common [thought], ‘how do I get my products to the doorstep of the consumer?’”
Many delivery services charge hefty commission fees and don’t put the focus on bettering small businesses, Lee said. Bindle PDX aims to change that.
Bindle PDX brings producers in nearby locations together so they can consolidate drop-off and pick-up sites. For example, by teaming up, Lovejoy's Tearoom, Bergerac, Full Belly Fare, and Thrive Sauce Co. were able to turn 23 deliveries into just four, which saved the small businesses about 150 miles of travel.
“We’ve reduced at least 50% of delivery costs and time for all of our producers and that’s just based on a handful of sales every week or so,” Lee said.
Lee believes small and micro-businesses are the heart of our communities and local economies. She says knowing where your products are coming from and who is making them is important. She hopes this platform will help elevate diverse voices in the local marketplace to allow consumers to search for and support producers who align with their own values.
“If you really are passionate about supporting women as business owners there should be a way for you to easily search those brands. The same thing goes for if you’re really wanting to support Black-owned businesses,” she said.
As Bindle continues to evolve Lee hopes to collaborate with more small businesses in the community. The end goal is to empower both buyers and sellers in hopes of creating a more conscientious way of doing business.
“What does that do for, not only me but also my children? And what does that do for the next generation and the environment that we're leaving behind?” Lee said.