AN ONLINE marketplace allowing shoppers to access local retailers could help boost businesses in Llanfyllin.

The town’s Brace group hosted a Zoom talk on November 11 by Nick Weir of the Open Food Network.

He explained how the not-for-profit enterprise brings local shoppers and consumers together in one internet marketplace.

The low-cost, open-source platform provides an online shop-front where multiple local producers add photos and descriptions of items they have available.

Shops can also put items from their stock online, offering the potential to reach more customers.

Although designed for food items there are also categories for plants, crafts and ‘other’ items produced locally, supporting vital parts of our rural economy.

Shoppers select items from any of the producers and create a basket of items, to be collected at a regular pick-up point on a set day.

Collection points can be community halls, churches or existing businesses who receive a fee for their contribution to the process.

Producers bring their goods ahead of the collection time and either hub volunteers or shop staff sortthem into boxes.

The producer sets the price they will receive for each item and the hub adds a percentage to cover costs, including employment of staff as the hub grows – this is all displayed in the ‘shop’ so customers can see exactly where their money goes.

The Open Food network charges a low fee to the sellers to finance their software development and support work.

Payment is usually taken in advance online. There are systems like buddy schemes or telephone ordering to support those not able to use online shopping.

Open Food Network was founded in Australia in 2012 and has spread to nine countries worldwide. In the UK, the platform saw an 800 per cent in orders in 2020 due to effects of Covid-19.

Brace chair Diana Allen said: “After the presentation there was much discussion about how to make this happen in our area. The concept fits well with Brace’s aim to encourage resilience within the community especially around the production and consumption of local food, and also with the Welsh Government’s desire to encourage local food networks.”

The next step is to create a team to take this forward and develop a hub in Llanfyllin that will serve not only the town but also the outlying communities.

If you would like to find out more or get involved, please email