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What Happens When a Storefront and a Social Media Network Combine? Storenvy mixes a no-cost e-commerce platform with community engagement.

By Gwen Moran Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What It Is
San Francisco-based Storenvy is a mashup of two online platforms: an easy-to-use storefront and a social media network. The retail component is a boutique populated by roughly 26,000 artists and manufacturers selling their clothing, housewares, jewelry, books and other items. The social media part of the equation took off with the site's relaunch in December, which added a way for items to be promoted to the community of roughly 500,000 shoppers through "Envies"--the Storenvy version of Facebook's "Like" button. This allows users to follow the purchases of shoppers who have similar tastes. The site also puts out a periodic e-newsletter tailored to customers' past purchases and Envies.

How It Started
Jon Crawford, who ran a small web-development company in Kansas City, Mo., believed more small businesses would set up shop online if they had access to an easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself platform. He launched Storenvy in 2009 to fill that need, with drag-and-drop features that allow virtually anyone to set up a boutique in minutes.

But Crawford had a bigger vision--a place where any small business "can get discovered and be a star, the way YouTube has created stars out of people who wouldn't be famous on their own," he says. He moved to San Francisco in 2010 and developed the social media component of his site to help this pursuit.

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