Local First Blog

Shop Local with LOCUS

Jul 9, 2021 10:30:00 AM / by Local First

Have you seen shopLOCUS.com yet? It's time to give it a whirl! LOCUS offers an e-commerce platform to find and support local, independent businesses. Your Local First team is a big fan and we hope you enjoy learning more about the people and the vision behind this awesome platform. Check out our Q&A with LOCUS owners Jill DeJonge and Eric Haslinger: 


  1. What is LOCUS? What makes this platform unique?
    shopLOCUS.com is a place to discover and shop local businesses all in one place. We offer the ease of Amazon, with the benefits of featuring interesting local shops and products at your fingertips, delivered to your door.
  2. In what ways does your site support local, independent businesses?
    LOCUS was created in response to shifting consumer habits and the meteoric rise of giants like Amazon and Walmart. We help consumers looking for a way to be more intentional with their spending filter out the masses and discover the independents right around the corner they never knew existed. 
  3. How can consumers use your platform today to keep their dollars local?
    We make it effortless to find a local option for anything you’re looking for. Search and purchase products from all of our merchants in one place. If you don’t see it on our site, we will send you recommendations available from our merchants to help you find the perfect item. If you’re just curious what local options are out there, explore our map and filter by neighborhood, category, or ownership. Consider following up your Independents Week engagement by shopping our Indie Summer Collection created in partnership with Local First.
  4. What are the benefits of joining LOCUS as a merchant?
    We help shops and makers get discovered by local customers, provide a modern shopping experience to a new generation of customers, and be part of a community that believes in working together to raise each other up rather than compete against one another. 
  5. How can local, independent businesses get in touch with you?
    Email us directly at hello@shoplocus.com or through the Contact Us link at shoplocus.com

Get to know Eric:

  1. How long have you lived and worked in the West Michigan community?
    I’ve lived in Grand Rapids for just over 20 years, with a 5-year stint in Chicago working in corporate retail after college. West Michigan has a way of drawing people back, as it did with me, and I couldn’t imagine a better community to grow a family and a new business. 
  2. What are your favorite West Michigan activities/experiences?
    I’m a big outdoor enthusiast and can’t get enough of the trails, lakes, and recreational activities we’re so fortunate to have in the area. I also love experiencing the many unique experiences found here that blend the arts, outdoors, and social. I’m thinking summer concerts at Frederik Meijer Gardens, Picnic Pops with the Symphony, bi-weekly summer rides with PedalGR, and so many more. 
  3. Why do you work to champion local, independent businesses?
    I’ve always loved discovering really interesting shops and products that are new or under the radar, and sharing them with others. The joy of stumbling upon hidden gems is what makes shopping fun and exciting for me. With main street struggling and computer algorithms dictating online shopping journeys that favor big businesses, that joy is increasingly harder to find. My goal is to help small businesses compete in this new retail environment and restore the magic in shopping.
  4. Do you have a favorite/fond local business memory?
    In early spring my 6-year-old niece was itching to get outside and back on her skateboard. I used to skate when I was a kid and wanted to take her to the skate park in downtown Grand Rapids, but hadn’t owned a board since I was 12 and wanted to experience it alongside her. My instinct was to rush online and start researching every brand, style, and review out there to make an informed decision. It was incredibly overwhelming and I shut down the computer. Later that week, I remembered passing a local shop downtown after a meeting a couple of years ago and checked to make sure it was still open. I walked into Premier feeling extremely out of place and unworthy, and walked out feeling like I was 12 again with a renewed sense of excitement for the sport (and a badass board). Even though I sprained my wrist a week later at that skate park with my niece, I am grateful to the staff at Premier for getting me back on a board and creating new memories.

Get to know Jill:

  1. How long have you lived and worked in the West Michigan community?
    My husband and I moved to Grand Rapids over 20 years ago. While raising our 3 kids, I was actively involved in many non-profit organizations.
  2. What are your favorite West Michigan activities/experiences?
    I love the variation in West Michigan. The country and the towns and the larger cities-everything offers something unique. I especially love how West Michigan embraces the outdoors through major outdoor concerts and sporting events, to restaurants and breweries, to biking, sailing and cross country skiing. 
  3. Why do you work to champion local, independent businesses?
    Small businesses make a place feel familiar and comfortable. From the time we moved here, many local businesses have been so important in our daily life. They have provided clothes, furniture, gifts and plenty of recommendations and it’s been such a pleasure to see them grow and succeed. I want to help businesses foster those relationships and communities.
  4. Do you have a favorite/fond local business memory?
    Visiting a bookstore recently, I was greeted by a sweet, affectionate dog. As I walked the length of the store and reviewed the latest staff picks, the owner had two phone calls, each asking if Tommy, the dog, was in. The owner said that happens almost daily. With each visit, I have found myself looking forward to the warm greeting from Tommy and the personal service and book recommendations that one can only get from a local, independent shop.




Shop local with the LOCUS Indie Summer Collection!




Tags: Local Business, Business Resources

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