The novel coronavirus pandemic has had a negative economic impact. With social distancing recommendations, people who sell handmade goods have had a hard time supporting themselves financially.
Wanting to help struggling local creators, Bobby Sloan launched Stay Home MHK, an online platform to buy and sell arts and crafts. The website is a place to find goods made right here in Manhattan.
The idea has spread beyond Manhattan though, as Sloan has also launched online marketplaces for Topeka, Kansas City, Wichita, Lawrence and Dodge City. All of the local platforms fall under the umbrella website Stay Home Kansas.
“It got legs more quickly than I would have ever anticipated,” Sloan said. “Which is great, but it means that I have to be doing a lot of testing and a lot of building, so it’s been a lot of late nights and long days.”
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While the Stay Home platforms are intended to connect people in the community, Sloan said that connection won’t come at the expense of staying safe. The idea was born out of helping people financially hurt by the novel coronavirus outbreak, so avoiding the spread of the virus is a priority.
Guidelines for all the Stay Home Kansas websites suggest following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing. This means vendors should leave purchases on the porch of the person buying their goods. Using a cash app to handle the sale can also ensure people using the service never come into physical contact with each other.
And while it can be inconvenient to work around public health recommendations, Sloan said it’s important to support local artists during this time.
“Things that are handcrafted and bought or given as gifts I think during this time, a lot of these could end up being some really important mementos 10 [or] 20 years from now,” said Sloan.