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New browser extension helps local businesses compete with Amazon

Posted at 12:39 PM, May 25, 2021

SEATTLE, Wash. -- At Standard Goods, you’ll find Pacific Northwest gear and pop culture items. Owner Jeff Gardner started the local business six years ago.

“I saw a need for this and I’m like, ‘Ya know, let’s do it,'" Gardner said. "Nobody’s doing like a young kind of modern store, and a lot of people like to be outside and be around other people and come into brick-and-mortar stores, so that’s sort of why I did it.”

Like many local businesses, Gardner took a big hit during the pandemic. There was a time when he could only sell online.

“Running an online site is like running a whole other store," Gardner said. "It’s expensive, it’s hard, you have to hire other people to do it, shipping’s expensive.”

He says he values having a brick-and-mortar store and interacting with people, but when someone came to him with an opportunity to help online sales, he took it.

That help was Sook, a browser extension that lets online shoppers see the local products available in their own community.

“I realized that they’re competing for the same consumers in the same way as massive corporations like Amazon, Walmart,” said Jonathan Sandals, the founder of Sook.

With a background in marketing, Sandals knew local stores couldn’t compete. So, he came up with the browser extension Sook, which means ‘market’ in Arabic. When somebody is searching for an item online, Sook shows them all of the options within miles from their home. It’s as simple as downloading the extension on Chrome or Firefox browsers.

“What’s an easy, quick, one-click way for people to buy a better product that’s five miles from their house from their neighbor than it is to buy something that’s 5,000 miles away in a warehouse,” Sandals said.

All he needs from the store is an address and website so he can add them to the database. Right now, he’s not making a dime on his creation and he doesn’t plan to. He says he created it because local businesses are the reason he loves the culture in Seattle.

“They embody independent spirit, independent creations, and best of all community," Sandals said. "These aren’t just distant, faceless corporations with mass-produced products. These are unique creations created by your neighbor.”

Gardner says Sandals is the only person who has come to him not asking to make a profit.

“I sort of didn’t believe it at first because everybody’s trying to make money," Gardner said. "Everybody wants to build the next Uber and make a gazillion dollars, but he’s been true to his word."

Sandals says Sook has been a passion project and he says dozens of other individuals have reached out happy to help for free. Sook is now in the largest cities of every state and available to anyone within 100 miles of those places.