Wheeling and Dealing
In 2006, Lesley Tweedy and her husband made a longtime dream come true when they took an old Chicago storefront and converted it into a neighborhood bike shop. With seed money from investors, they built up their inventory and created Roscoe Village Bikes, a store they hoped would meet the needs of local residents.
But there was a particular bike helmet that just gathered dust on the shelf; no customer was interested in buying it.
That’s when Lesley and her husband started their own online marketplace, LittleIndependent.com. They wanted to be able to sell items like this bike helmet to a wider audience, and to help other local shops do the same. “I found fellow store owners have the same issue…sometimes [they] find themselves with an item that lingers too long,” Lesley says. “There was no inexpensive and simple-to-use online marketplace just for independent stores like mine.”
The website helps small stores from 20 different states unload items, like Chicago Cubs wallpaper, a 1940s pillow, and a little girl’s tutu. “When I think about sales,” she says, “I actually think about matching somebody with something they’re looking for.”
On the surface, getting specific products into people’s hands is what Lesley does on a daily basis, but her ultimate goal is to always put a smile on each customer’s face. “If I can do that 20 or 50 times a day,” Lesley says, “at the end of my day, I feel like I helped somebody—and that makes me feel good.”