eTownships finds a new business model and a new name

By Taylor McClure – Special to Brome County News

After opening its doors just under two years ago in Knowlton’s downtown core, eTownships, a boutique that sells products from local artisans, businesses, and producers, owned by Virginia Wilson, is moving its business online and has found a new name, ETBOX. Inspired by a company in New Brunswick, Wilson hopes to get back to what she does best by marketing local products and artisans in a new online format where customers can continue to purchase some of their favorite goods or the new ETBOX gift boxes for family and friends.

Wilson was inspired to move eTownships online and give it a new name, ETBOX, after receiving a gift box called NB Box from a client. “They sell a whole bunch of cool products from New Brunswick and there is a lot natural, organic, local stuff,” explained Wilson. “I was so inspired by it and it’s originally where I wanted to go.”

Launching eTownships during the pandemic, Wilson said the mission was always to showcase local products, but the business became more than what she expected.

“I wasn’t planning on becoming like a full grocery store, it’s not really my passion. I think it became what the community wanted, but the business model for a grocery is that it has to be in a fairly large location,” explained Wilson. “I would have had to expand from the current location to take up the entire building and the rent would have been too expensive. I didn’t want to open a really big grocery store; I don’t see myself waking up at 3 a.m., making croissants, and preparing food, it’s not what I want as a professional.”

Wilson, who has another company and a full-time job, said that moving things online will allow her to avoid overhead costs, find a more balanced lifestyle, and get back to what she does best: marketing.

“For my professional life, it’s a lot of work. I think a lot of people underestimate grocery stores and the work it takes. You have to love food, cooking, and baking. I’m losing overhead costs and going online will allow me to really market local products,” she mentioned. “I didn’t have the time to really do what I’m good at and my background is in marketing. I want to showcase the products, do Instagram shoots, and the thing that’s most interesting about products is the story behind them. The story of value of each of the products made here locally is just something I didn’t have the time to put 100 per cent into before.”

While fresh produce will no longer be offered through ETBOX, customers can still find some of their favorite non-perishable items. “There will still be maple syrup and cookies, those kinds of preserves, but more in terms of gourmet and gourmand items,” noted Wilson. “There will still be some sweet treats, classic maple products, and chocolates.”

ETBOX gift boxes, including seasonal ones, will also be made available and prepared by Wilson. “They will be themed boxes, but people can also buy individual items. A lot of corporate clients want to buy their employees local products or people want to send something to their mom, and it’s really easy and they know that they are shopping locally,” said Wilson.

Starting a new chapter, Wilson said that eTownships could not have thrived the way that it did without community support and motivated staff.
“We were so blessed at eTownships with the amount of support from the local community. We could not have survived two years without everyone showing up rain or shine,” emphasized Wilson. “Miriam Pattison, the manager there holding the fort down for the last year, has given her heart and soul. She loved the company as much as I did.

eTownships will officially close its physical location on April 30. ETBOX will be launching on May 1and all information about new online format can be found on its Facebook page.

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