Roanoke Market Vendor Gets New Van Through Crowd Funding - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Roanoke Market Vendor Gets New Van Through Crowd Funding

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The community is working together to help a local man expand his business.

Joe Stanley turns recycled wine bottles, old wood, and gift cards into upcycled gifts like lanterns, earrings, and bird feeders. He sells his creations in downtown Roanoke and travels to local schools teaching kids about going green.

"I'm like everyone else who owns a business out there," Stanley said. "I just want to grow, I want to expand, I want to be able to take it to more people and more places."

Stanley says his small car was limiting the potential because he couldn't transport large orders from his Franklin County studio or pick up as many recyclables. He turned to the website Crowdtilt to buy a new van. The website allows anyone to donate to the cause.

"It's a feeling like none other," Stanley said. "It was awkward to go out there and do that because it's a nontraditional way to get capital for your business."

Stanley had some savings built up and asked for $1,500 in donations. It took about two weeks to get the $1,500 needed to buy the van. He says people from all over the country donated anywhere from $10-$250.

"I'm also working on a startup," said Tom Dushyed, a donor who knew Stanley before the campaign started. "I know how hard it is nowadays to start a business. I really believe in Joe. Joe is such a good guy, such a hard worker, so it's not only the idea I'm investing in, it's the person."

But Stanley got donations from strangers, too.

"It's just a click away, so I've donated to things online because it's so simple and you know you're helping," said Mary Beth Alford, a donor. "Since I've had a son now I think I'm much more open to doing whatever it takes to recycle and upcycle."

"It's a way of getting a little bit from a lot of people rather than hitting up one person for a lump sum," Stanley said. He's gotten all the donations he needs and encourages you to go online and see if there's a cause you can help.