By any and all indexes, Chiang Mai’s economy is on life support. There is no need for us to explain the situation; we are all living it.
As a media company which now has little more than bad news to report, we too have felt the pain. You see, over the past 29 years, Citylife’s fortunes have been tied to the city’s. To paraphrase the Grand Old Duke of York;
“And when they were up, we were up
And when they were down, we were down
And when they were only half-way up
We were neither up nor down…”
When our city’s economy is healthy, our customers flourish and in turn we are busy bees with lots to do and say. So it hasn’t been much fun over the past year or so watching one client after another tightening their belts, downsizing and in many cases, closing shop. All we can offer is our platform and our channels – our voice. After all, while the economy stagnates, our readers are still consuming media, and judging by our online statistics, at a greater volume than ever. And that is why, in spite of everything, we continue to do what we can with our limited resources to disseminate news, to showcase businesses, to inform and to entertain. While things are bad we know that one day they will, eventually, get better. Life is resilient and we have every bit of faith in our ability to regenerate. But we know how hard it is going to be when things do begin to improve. So many businesses have had to cut back on staff, on development, on research, on marketing etc. that it will be almost impossible to start again from scratch. And that is why we firmly believe that it is going to require us all to work together, not against one another, to get back on our collective feet. What resources one has should be shared if possible so others too can in turn share back theirs.
To that end, we have spent the past year and a half developing an idea which we had right at the beginning of the pandemic – to launch a platform whereby our clients and other local businesses can reach a wider and for many, a new, market.
Sure, just about every second person I know is now selling something online, whether it is a crocheted purse or a tub of homemade chili dip. Thai people are entrepreneurial in spirit, and that is pretty much what is keeping much of our local economy going at this point. People selling to each other, keeping the little money there is circulated.
And we know that we are no Lazada or Shoppee. We have no intention (nor funds!) of going there. But what we can do is help small and medium sized businesses reach out and connect to you and perhaps you too will appreciate the opportunity to support these businesses who would all be happy for an extra few baht.
So, as of today, we are (softly, softly) launching our Citylife Online Shop. Starting small, with just under 100 items, we hope to expand as our system gets tried and tested and we slowly roll our platform out to a wider audience.
Sure, we will be taking a cut. We are a business after all, and we have spent a year and a half developing this site as well as having our own costs to cover. We are not in any way saying that this is some altruistic endeavour. But we hope that it is a pragmatic one. One in which we can all be beneficiaries. If we can use our platforms, our new online shop, our web site, our Facebook page, our recently similarly gently launched YouTube channel or our IG account @chiangmaicitylife to help local businesses then we will all reap the rewards.
We have to support local businesses however we can. While convenience culture is more attractive than ever as goods and services can be had at a swipe of an icon and a tap of a finger, and while I fully admit that I am as guilty as the next person for enjoying the simple pleasures of convenience stores, sophisticated online shopping or service applications and any number of technology-based businesses which lure me with ease.
Whether it is the wood lemon squeezer hand carved by an uncle in Saraphi, hand-made organic soap delivered from an in-home workshop in Maejo or a fun handbag made of cork which a young local designer has crafted, come and check out our new shop and make your purchases. Our catalogue is currently limited, but with your support we can expand it to a point where we hope the site will be used to showcase the best of Chiang Mai.
We would also be super grateful if you can please give us feedback and any critisisms…of which I am sure there will be some! If we can slowly build up our shop’s database, eventually having enough variety of products at different price points to be of regular interest to buyers, then I believe we can really affect many lives and businesses. Even communities.
I think it is clear that we must help ourselves out of this pandemic crisis and the only way to do so is to help others.