KEMPTVILLE - Entrepreneur Darlene Collin is not one to sit around waiting for things to happen.

When the pandemic hit and she noticed local businesses and market vendors were suffering with slowed sales, or closing but with high inventory, Darlene came up with a plan to help showcase and move products online.

"I thought what are all these small businesses going to do?" Darlene recalls, adding she had experience in business, logistics and internet sales and wanted to find a way to help the business owners and her community.

"I couldn't do websites for all of them so I thought how about combining them all on one site?" she says. "I wanted to help them sell and stay in business."

Her idea was an immediate success and was born! In the first few weeks 13 vendors came on board. Very quickly it shot up to 40 vendors. Today, 18 months later and still in a pandemic, My Local Markets helps 230 vendors sell their products, including many from the Leeds Grenville area and greater Ottawa Valley.

"I had no idea this would become a full-time thing," Darlene says. In the early days her family helped. But as orders and emails grew rapidly, it became clear Darlene needed to hire support staff. She now has two full-time employees who help with sales, distribution and accounts payable.

"It's exciting," says Sheena Leonard, a member of the My Local Markets team. She had previously commuted to her old job in Ottawa and now works right in her community.

My Local Markets products range from fresh bakery goods, prepared ready-to-go meals, to honey, maple syrup, soap and so much more. Customers vary from people who want to support local business and local food, or cannot get to regular outdoor markets but want local products, to some people who enjoy the convenience or still limit being around others due to the pandemic.

Orders over $50 are delivered west to Mallorytown, northeast to Ottawa and Orleans, southeast to Iroquois, and northwest to Carp. My Local Markets regularly fulfills 65 orders per week with this number rising in the fall and winter. At peak periods My Local Markets has processed 200 orders per week.

"I'm now looking at expanding and shipping to other provinces," says Darlene. "This was a blessing in disguise for me because this is the kind of thing I love and now I get to do it every day."

Each week you can place your order by Sunday for delivery or pick-up on Wednesday, or order Tuesday for delivery or pick-up on Thursday. They have special events including an On Campus Nigh Market on Thursday, October 14 and a Big Christmas Market on Saturday, November 13.

Learn more about My Local Markets by visiting their website, Facebook and Instagram pages and Twitter account. Give them a call at 613-208-0835. They are located 75 Campus Drive at the Kemptville Campus in Kemptville.