Business

Small Business Spotlight: Bodega 38 Is an Etsy for Denver's Small Businesses

Andrew Linenfelser and Josh Davis
Andrew Linenfelser and Josh Davis Bodega 38
On a cold Denver day, the thought of getting outside to shop at all the small businesses around town may not be that appealing. And that's where Bodega 38 comes in. The online marketplace, which launched in October, brings thirty of Denver's small businesses right to people's homes.

Bodega 38 partners with local businesses to sell their products online and give them a better platform for consumers to find their products. Shoppers can search products sold by a specific business, or order themed boxes of products to get a taste of what's being sold at a variety of spots. It's a way for small businesses to have space in the online shopping world without having to use big sites such as Etsy. Businesses on Bodega 38 include the Beer Spa, Queen City Collective Coffee, the Wrightwood Candle Company and more.

We spoke with Bodega 38 co-founder Josh Davis, who came up with the idea during the pandemic and reached out to his friend Andrew Linenfelser to help him design the site. The two now run the business together, even handcrafting and delivering boxes that are ordered.

Westword: How did you get the idea for Bodega 38?

Josh Davis: At the time, it was prime pandemic, and I was living out in California with my wife. I walked into my garage and saw a mountain of Amazon boxes. I thought to myself, "This is kind of gross." I would Google "Buy shoes locally," and it would navigate me everywhere I didn't want to go. It felt like there wasn't a one-stop shop to shop local; this was the middle of 2020. It moved into action when we moved back to Denver; the passion became stronger when I was back in my community. I created an Instagram page and contacted as many local businesses as I could. Without having anything other than an idea, ten people wanted to work with us. We've been working on the concept for about a year and a half now, and back in October, we launched.

How does the marketplace work?

We aggregate products from locally owned businesses, and we sell to local consumers. We onboard local businesses either by word of mouth or someone will contact us, and I create their Bodega page for them. Basically, when we sign on a new partner to be a local business...we'll get an order on our platform, and they'll get an email notification saying, "You have an order." They're shipping it from their own inventory. The other model of our business that's been really successful is our curated gift boxes. These boxes are a sample of products we sell on the marketplace. So far since our launch, we sold forty of our Taste of Denver boxes, and twenty of our Relaxation boxes. We hand-select a couple different partners that we think make sense for the theme of the box.

What is the benefit of having Bodega 38 as the middleman between consumers and local businesses?

If you and I were to go online and individually find these businesses by Googling "local" and the type of product, it really navigates you to all over the place. Managing your own individual website and doing your own individual marketing — it's a lot. It's really convenient to be one of the five jams on Bodega, [whereas] if you work with Etsy or something, you're one jam out of thousands.

How long does shipping usually take?

Our typical wait time is two to four business days. All of that depends on where you live. We do standardized shipment of two days, especially if there is food — you want to get it to customers as soon as possible — and we process those orders immediately as they come through.

What do you think the biggest challenge facing small businesses today is, and how does Bodega 38 help with that?

I think of the biggest challenges that some of our partners face is marketing, for sure. I think just in regards to getting our brand out there, most of our partners have their own footprint at local farmers' markets and stuff like that, and they get their name known through that type. Most of the businesses we work with have little sales when it comes to their own e-commerce platform. We come in as that supplemental revenue that they can rely on. I think that's definitely an area where we currently help them.

What's in the Taste of Denver box?

It hits home to a lot of staples people use in their house. We have a hot sauce from Sauce Leopard that's a fan favorite for a lot of people. We work with Queen City Coffee, and they're a staple as well. We have jam from Yummy Lotus, the first business we ever worked with. We have George's Pound Cake — it's a nice treat in there — and we have nutrition bars from Three Club Nutrition. They're a father-daughter business, where they were kind of tired of eating Clif Bars and stuff loaded with sugar.

What boxes will be coming out in the future?

We're thinking in the springtime we're going to be launching a boozy box. That's going to be not physically putting alcohol in it, but giving you the ingredients to make cocktails. We have a few discussions going on with other local businesses. We're also thinking about a doggy box. We're going to be onboarding a couple local pet companies and throwing their product in that box; I think the running joke in Denver is that everyone has a dog.

To learn more, visit bodega38.com/denver.
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Katrina Leibee, a recent graduate of Colorado State University, is an editorial fellow at Westword, covering politics, business and culture.
Contact: Katrina Leibee

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