Jan. 16, 2015*
By Peter Vankevich

What can Ocracoke’s small businesses and creators  do to extend a seasonal work cycle that consists of eight months of the year? This was the topic of the new group Open Source Ocracoke’s second brainstorming session held Jan. 10 at Kim and Roger Meacham’s home on Cabana Drive.

Kim Meacham 2015-01-10 17.02.29
Kim Meacham. Photo by Peter Vankevich

“We all would like to have a life-changing year,” Kim said in opening the meeting to a group of about  20 islanders.

There is interest in creating a support system for small businesses with pooled energy and resources to solve the issue of “separateness,” she said, and to generate business for a more stable local economy.

While there are many reasons why living on Ocracoke is so enriching, “there exists ‘island discontent,’ which is the insecurity of working here from the many idle months where businesses shut down, and the island’s isolation,” she said. “We want to reevaluate the brick and mortar seasonal financial model of the Island.”

One solution would be to pool resources and expertise into a co-op and learn how to market local products globally.  Her business, Milk Street Soaps, is now selling its products throughout the country, Meacham said.

The group plans to set up a promotional Ocracoke website that provides information about the island-specific community shopping that would include links to the individual business websites.

Workshops and setting up focus groups that share their research are in the planning stages.

One example would be how to effectively use established commercial websites such as Amazon, eBay,  Etsy and Shopify that can help market island goods.

Other topics explored include workshops or focus groups on trademarking, manufacturing, bookkeeping and how to create and manage a web site without having to rely on others.

Taking advantage of the popular social media, a Facebook page, Ocracoke Open Source, has been set up that will consolidate information, events and discuss questions between meetings. It will also serve as a vehicle to get quick feedback or answers from the group. Blogging and its video equivalent, vlogging,  are other social media options that are being considered.

Attending Ocracoke Open Source meeting Maria Logan, Tara Grey, Matt Sheehan and Helena Stevens. Photo by P. Vankevich
Attending Ocracoke Open Source meeting Maria Logan, Tara Grey, Matt Sheehan and Helena Stevens. Photo by P. Vankevich

Marissa Gross, owner of Down Creek Gallery, said she has a lot of experience in shipping goods and product photograhy. She will put on a workshop for both at 1 p.m. Feb. 21 at Down Creek Gallery.

“There is immense power in a group of trusted, hardworking, intelligent people,” Meacham said. “We are all friends and are all dynamic in our own individual ways. We can pool our energies in a non-competitive, roll our sleeves up, grass-rooted way inside a Community to help create and support financial vigor.”

The next meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, in the Meacham residence. If you plan on attending, RSVP on Facebook

*This article was updated on Jan. 18, 2015.

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