Baton Rouge’s thriving community of makers, creatives and entrepreneurs has netted a big fish: eBay

Earlier this year, Baton Rouge opened the doors of its creative scene to the rest of the world. Online commerce company eBay partnered with Baton Rouge officials and business owners for its Retail Revival program. Participating businesses—like BBQGuys, Time Warp Boutique and Pop Shop Records, among others—receive training, coaching and marketing support from the eBay team.

Businesses have access to sessions with eBay reps for a six-week period. The reps direct the business owners during how-to’s on everything from utilizing eBay’s SEO management to enhancing listings showcasing their products.

Now, with the help of eBay’s year-long program and the infinity of the internet, Baton Rouge-made products are accessible to millions of consumers around the world. Baton Rouge became only the sixth city worldwide to host the program, and local businesses owners couldn’t be more thrilled.

Local vendors range from jewelry makers like Renee Marie, specialty food brands like Pointe Coupee Pecan and artists such as Kristen Downing, who even partnered with eBay to design and auction off an exclusive sneaker art piece at the AfroTech Conference in Oakland.

BBQGuys’ Bianca Bolden and Carri Brown sell grilling equipment through
the program

One vendor, BBQGuys, previously limited its shipments to the 48 continental states. Because the retailer sells grills that can weigh 600 to 700 pounds, international shipping might have cost more than the grill itself. Now, they can ship a grill to eBay’s Kentucky warehouse, and the retailer will take care of the international shipping for them.

“We’re able to reach out to a bigger audience through international shipping,” BBQGuys marketplace manager Bianca Bolden says.

The participating businesses had to go through an application period before being selected by eBay. Once they were chosen, the opportunities were endless, between networking, access to concierge support and eBay’s assistance with international orders. Even after the year-long program ends, the participants will get to keep access to some of the perks.

“We were super excited that they picked us,” Bolden says. “We got to meet other businesses in Baton Rouge and network with them, people that we wouldn’t have ordinarily met. The big thing about it is that this is a free service. If we were to try to get this service from anybody else, it would most likely be [expensive].”

Kristen Downing’s sneaker art piece was auctioned off by eBay at the AfroTech Conference in Oakland

Time Warp owner Joshua Holder says the eBay program has provided an inventive new method of business for the vintage shop.

“Being a store that’s been open for over 18 years, beyond these four walls it’s hard to come up with something new to put all your time and energy into to create more business for yourself,” Holder says. “When eBay rolled in and offered such a unique program for Louisiana, we hopped on board like, ‘Wow, this might actually be something that we would dip our toes into and see if we put more time and effort into it, it would actually help us grow.’”

And the Retail Revival program has already helped Time Warp grow, Holder says. In only three months, the company has exceeded its growth expectations.

“It’s been a phenomenal opportunity,” he says. “It’s kind of like a little club. They’ve introduced us to all kinds of new people. It’s only going to get better and better for us.”

This article was originally published in the December 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.