We were excited to announce back in August that Carson and Kelly Kramer were the new City Managers of ShopWasaga.com.
Today, we are even more thrilled to announce the expansion of their Shop Local Movement into Central Ontario. The Kramers are now City Mangers of ShopBarrie.com and ShopCollingwood.com, sites serving Barrie and Collingwood, Ontario, that are growing rapidly with the help of dedicated community advocates.
To celebrate the expansion, we asked the Kramers to answer a few questions about the area, the ShopCity.com model, and what inspires them about where they live.
What professional background do you have that led you to ShopCity.com?
Carson: Kelly and I ran --as a team-- our own manufacturing company for over 30 years. With that experience we can relate to small businesses. We were the owners and operators of the company and with the help of our employees, we managed to grow for many years.
Kelly: We understand the struggles of small business.
Why do you advocate for the Shop Local movement?
Kelly: Because we do recognize how small businesses struggle to survive out there against those bigger companies. The ShopCity.com model is giving them the tools they need to compete.
Carson: We buy into the model that Colin promotes with ShopCity.com. Shop locally and keep the money here. We fully understand what’s going on. We need to keep money within the community. Following that concept, we believe in it, that’s one of the reasons we are supporting this.
A recent photo of Kelly and Carson Kramer
You started with ShopWasaga.com and now you are extending your network to next-door Barrie and Collingwood. Why did you decide to expand beyond Wasaga?
Carson: After our manufacturing company we wanted to do something totally different, so we went into web development. Kelly did a lot of IT stuff for the company, so we decided to retrain in programming. Kelly was doing front-end and I was doing back-end development for websites and we found that the ShopCity.com model answered a lot of our clients’ needs. We were impressed with it, so we thought we would try Wasaga to see how this product complements the website business. When we found that we were getting pretty successful results and that people liked it we decided that we should expand into other centres. We were already selling websites as far down as Hamilton, so it’s not a problem for us to expand into the communities next door.
What would be your advice to new or prospective City Managers?
Carson: We still consider ourselves new managers! Kelly has more hands-on experience with the accounts than I do, because I’ve been organizing the overall structure and piecing together how to manage multiple areas. Kelly has concentrated on learning first hand what the platform can do, so she’s able to get in front of people and present it. For new City Managers, from what I see in Kelly, understanding the system is the key to selling it.
Kelly: If you understand the tools we offer, you realize there's something for every company you talk to. So, if you can get their attention for a few minutes and find out what they need, you can offer them these tools and it’s almost like an easy sell when you can show them how it will help their company. As a web developer, which is what we did for the last 5 years, I see the value in how it can help small companies. Whether it’s putting a coupon out there to help promote them, or easily sending a newsletter so they can get the word out, and then updating their website automatically... If you can just get time to figure out what they need, there’s something for everybody out there with this program.
What is it about Collingwood, Wasaga Beach and Barrie that make them wonderful places to live, work and shop?
Carson: I like this area because it’s like the playground of Ontario. You’ve got your skiing, watersports, the world's longest freshwater beach, which is nice and shallow for kids... You’ve got fishing and campgrounds, so it’s recreational from a standard of living point of view and also it’s a great opportunity for the local ShopCity.com model because local businesses here need to support themselves. We don’t have the kind of infrastructure the city has where we get high volume traffic and people are coming through and buying products and services on a regular basis. Here, it’s a lot of tourism in the local economy and I think that’s one of the reasons we like the area so much. We’ve invested in the area because there are so many local activities happening here.
Kelly: Each of the centres we own has been home to me at one point in my life. I was raised just on the Innisfil border, so I went to school in Barrie. I've lived in Collingwood and Wasaga, so all of these areas have been home.
How do you get involved in your community?
Kelly: We are members of the Chamber in Wasaga Beach and in Barrie. I am part of the women’s business association. We are joining the BNI group in Barrie and probably the one in Collingwood shortly, so we are involved in different membership organizations in the area.
Carson: We are members at Devil’s Glen and we have memberships to Blue Mountain, so we also participate in local sports activities as well.
What are you most proud of?
Kelly: My kids!
Carson: That’s what I was going to say, we’ve got two great kids.
What’s your favourite album of all time?
Kelly: That’s too hard, you should see our collection! We listen to everything. Right from classic, to country, to rock.
Carson: I don’t really have a favourite, because things change for me depending upon how much I’ve listened to different music.
If you could meet one famous influencer alive today, who would you meet?
Kelly: Tony Robbins
Carson: Elon Musk
What is your favourite thing that you can buy locally?
Carson: Apples are great!
Kelly: We also have a lot of good restaurants up here.
Carson: The other thing that’s really great locally is corn.Kelly: We’ve got a lot of good farmer’s markets and fresh food. You can pick up everything from fresh steak that was just cut in the morning to apples that were picked the day before or today. You can’t beat the fresh produce up here.