SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Many street fairs in San Diego County and across the country have taken a hit during the coronavirus pandemic, but a new website is allowing the makers of custom crafts and other unique items to connect with their patrons during these difficult times.
"We're trying to increase the urban and suburban garden zone for pollinators," Kenneth Abernathy said about Caterpillar Chow, his home business that produces milkweed for monarchs.
Pharmacist Katie Andonian owns Rx-Essentials, a home business specializing in pure and natural sanitizing products. She told ABC 10News her aim is to “make safer, eco-friendly and available cleaning products.”
Abernathy and Andonian are two members of a new website, called Shop My Porch, that's bringing thousands of makers -- with their endless myriad of unique and custom products -- together with customers.
The site was created in November 2020 by Phyllis Cheung, a craft maker with a corporate background in marketing who was looking for ways to increase business for makers during the pandemic.
"One morning I was like, ‘Maybe I'll just deck out my porch and turn it into a boutique,’” said Cheung about how she got the idea to transform her porch into a safe, outside shopping area.
"The first weekend I sold a thousand ornaments," Cheung said, "It was like unreal. So, the next weekend, I made a call out to local Facebook groups. I said, 'Does anyone else want to join me?'"
Cheung said 30 makers took part that first weekend. And she quickly decided to ramp up the mission online with her tech savvy.
"I have 15 years in search technologies, I've been doing it for a long time," Cheung said.
She built ShopMyPorch.com as a map to makers.
"If you're in that ZIP code, you'll be able to go on the site and search for say, candles," Cheung explained. "Everybody in the nation who makes candles shows up on the map and then you just kind of zoom in to your ZIP and see who in 92129 makes candles."
Abernathy said the site has increased his business, adding, "Just finding this site here and opening up quadrupled my sales in about a week."
He also said the site is helping him stay with a new venture he loves. His passion shared by many makers who put their heart and soul into their very unique and personal products.
But they still have to pay the bills, and Cheung said she’s getting lots of positive feedback about how her site is already helping with that.
"I've gotten so many messages," Cheung said, "like, because of this site I paid my mortgage this month or I was able to put food on the table."
Shop My Porch is growing fast, attracting members across the country. Still, Cheung said the emphasis is on shopping local, supporting makers in your neighborhood, which can have many benefits.
"Shop My Porch, in the time of social isolation, has restored for many members of our community,” said Andonian. "That feeling of closeness and community but still being socially distant."
"It just reminds me of the America I grew up with," said Abernathy, “and that's exactly what I want everybody to see because it's still there."
Cheung said Shop My Porch is growing at a rate of 300 to 500 members a day.
Learn more by visiting ShopMyPorch.com.