The Good Squad Interview with Cara & Cary, Founders of Goodbuy
Small-business owners love what they do, and play a critical role in supporting local economies (and the economy at large!) Spending your money with small, values-aligned independent brands feels good and helps to sustain small business owners, their families, and communities at large!
When it comes to shopping small, there’s no question: it’s more personable, more helpful, and more human-centered. Small businesses are also more likely to give back to community causes than mega-retailers, and make up 40% of U.S. economic activity.
It’s hard to dispute that shopping small is good for all.
To make it easier than ever to support small, values-aligned businesses we’re excited to introduce, goodbuy: a free online shopping tool that connects independent small businesses with conscious, values-aligned shoppers. Over 70% of all online spending in the U.S. goes directly into the pockets of 15 mega-retailers. goodbuy was founded by friends —and now business partners — Cara Oppenheimer and Cary Telander Fortin in 2021 to change this fact. With a Google Chrome browser extension, shop-anywhere small business search engine, and mobile app offering over 19.5 million products from 185k+ small businesses, goodbuy is on a mission to make shopping feel good by making conscious shopping easy.
This week we had the opportunity to interview the founders of goodbuy and learn what it has meant to them to build a purpose-driven company and how they came up with the idea behind this revolutionary small business shopping tool!
1. Tell us about your journey with Goodbuy and how it all began.
Cary and I (hi, Cara here!) have been friends since 2017 and business partners since 2021. I’m the daughter of independent business owners and over the years have watched firsthand as the rise of mega-retailers and e-commerce have impacted my parents’ business (and all independent businesses). In 2020, when COVID-19 hit, the belief in supporting small, independent businesses became all the more important as many businesses shuttered, and others struggled to stay afloat. It dawned on me that there needed to be an easy way to get that same item you were purchasing from a mega-retailer from a small business owner, and the idea for Goodbuy was born: what if we could create a tool that would intercept mega-retail reflexive shopping habits, and make it easy for shoppers to support small, values-aligned businesses? I texted Cary, and soon after we started building Goodbuy together.
2. How did you go about building the platform and building the company?
As two non-technical co-founders, we knew it was imperative to work with a tech team that understood our vision and wasn’t intimidated by the scale we knew we needed. We found a CTO who’d been a dear friend of Cara’s for over a decade and was as inspired as we were to build goodbuy. We are also supported in our work every day thanks to a mighty team of eight additional brilliant and purpose-aligned humans.
3. How are Goodbuy businesses vetted to ensure they are small and truly sustainable, and ethical?
Great question! All of the businesses that are part of the goodbuy small business community have annual revenue that is under $50 million. We have sixteen business owner identities and business values from which business owners can self-identify. These include AAPI-owned, American-made, Black-owned, certified ethical, cruelty-free, family-owned, Indigenous-owned, Latina/o/x-owned, LGBTQIA+ owned, MENA/SWANA-owned, local, owners w/disability(ies), sustainable, vegan, veteran-owned, and women-owned businesses. In addition, we rely on third-party certifications (think: certified B Corps, 1% for the planet, Leaping Bunny certified, certified climate neutral, etc.) as well as charitable partnerships with verified 501(c)(3) organizations to verify the social and environmental impact of goodbuy small businesses.
4. We love that Goodbuy supports conscious shopping! Why should people support small businesses?
Thank you! Us too! The U.S. e-commerce marketplace is an $800 billion industry. Most of this money– over 70% of it– goes directly into the pockets of just 15 mega-retailers. Here at goodbuy, we’re on a mission to change this fact.
Why? Well, besides the fact that supporting real business owners feels really good, for every $100 spent with a small business $68 remains in that local economy. Small businesses also make up 40% of U.S. economic activity, account for 64% of net new jobs created in the U.S., and are 250% more likely to give back to local community causes than large corporations. We think that’s truly worth supporting.
5. What is it like growing a company with your best friend?
We always like to say that if the two of us were to share an Instagram bio it would likely read: Two working moms of four littles, trying to solve the world’s problems, with our own special blend of empathy and aggressiveness. In a relationship with each other, but married to other people.
Working together is incredible. We don’t think there is any guarantee that you’ll love working with someone whom you love as a human, but for us specifically, seeing each other’s talents and passions play out in an entirely new way has really grown our respect for each other in addition to that love. Our relationship was founded on honesty and trust – we spent many long days in a postpartum haze together after the births of our first kids. That type of exhaustion and overwhelm removes pretenses or the need to show up as anything other than who you fully are. Given our background, we just knew that we had the necessary foundation to build something big together.
6. Do you have any advice for fellow small business owners?
Find your community. Running a small business can feel lonely and like you’re constantly reinventing the wheel. When you have a group of peers to share the journey with, it’s both easier and so much richer an experience. They’re the people who will understand the work behind your successes, offer support in tough times, and, most practically, can share their own best practices or amortize costs with you.
7. Any exciting plans for Goodbuy in 2022 and beyond?
We’re really excited about our most recent launch: our mobile app, which is now available in the Apple app store in addition to our shop-anywhere small business search engine shopping feature, and our Google Chrome browser extension which launched within the last six months.
Today, we’re continuing to build trust with our incredible community of small businesses and preparing to welcome even more small business owners into our community with a special plug-in built for small businesses coming this Fall. For any of you small, values-aligned businesses out there, we’d love to meet you! You can learn more about us at trygoodbuy.com/small-business or by dropping us a note.
In such a volatile environment, small, independent businesses count on your business to stay afloat; every transaction is precious to small brands like ours, here at The Good Tee. When deciding where to spend your hard-earned dollars (whether it’s on your morning coffee or a gift for your bestie)– consider the benefits of opting to shop with independently-owned small businesses!
As a small business ourselves, The Good Tee is grateful for companies like goodbuy who are providing new awareness to our brand and helping to build a community of good companies! For conscious consumers, goodbuy is making it easier than ever before to shop for what you need from small, value-aligned businesses without all of the hard work of researching for yourself which businesses out there truly live within their values. The Good Tee is honored to be listed as one of goodbuy’s Certified Ethical businesses (given our certifications as a B Corp and Fair Trade brand).
Find out more about goodbuy and how it works by clicking the links below!
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