Stratford-based business owner named eBay Emerging Ecommerce Entrepreneur of the Year

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The owner of a downtown Stratford shoe store will receive $ 10,000 after being named Emerging Ecommerce Entrepreneur of the Year at eBay’s 17th annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards, that honor small Canadian retailers who have achieved great success in the global website marketplace.

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“It was such a proud moment for me, because I’m sure so many people applied,” said Karina Bogle, owner of White-Balmer Shoes. “It’s a Canadian award, and winning something this huge in my first two years in business is nice to know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and doing it well. It’s nice to be recognized.

The 29-year-old from Gadshill worked at the Ontario Street business while a high school student at Northwestern. This fueled Bogle’s passion for shoes, which brought her to Toronto, where she ran a shoe distributor in North America.

She bought White-Balmer in August 2019 – seven months before a global pandemic derailed brick-and-mortar companies.

“You don’t buy a business and plan for such a roadblock, so it was a little scary,” she said.

With his store temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, Bogle has accelerated his long-term plan to build a website. She was online in May 2020, and in December, she linked her store inventory to eBay, where she had already sold some of her own items on a much smaller scale.

Customers liked being able to purchase shoes online or pre-purchase to limit the time they had to spend inside the store, Bogle said.

“It’s a good tool for us.

eBay quickly became the major source of White-Balmer’s online sales, sometimes accounting for about a third of total sales. These sales have not only allowed Bogle to keep her business open and two employees at work, but she is also looking to add additional staff to meet demand online.

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An Insider Intelligence Canada Ecommerce Forecast report says the country’s e-commerce retail sales will hit $ 86.5 billion by the end of the year, nearly doubling the 2019 total and accounting for more than 13% of all retail sales in 2021.

“The Canadian retail landscape has changed online in the wake of the global pandemic, with small businesses in particular realizing the power of e-commerce and seeing new opportunities for growth,” said Rob Bigler, Managing Director from eBay Canada. This year’s Entrepreneur of the Year award winners illustrate how effective eBay’s global marketplace can be for small businesses, helping them succeed despite another difficult year from the COVID-19 pandemic . “

The cash reward will be reinvested in Bogle’s business and it will receive other benefits from the business in the future. This will not prevent Bogle from adding a personal touch to every online purchase in the form of handwritten thank you notes.

“For me, when people walk through the door, it’s all about customer service and helping everyone,” she said. “It’s a way to show that part of White-Balmer Shoes is customer service and (our) appreciation for small business shopping.”

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