Being an independent business owner during these pandemic times has been difficult, and will continue to be when shops begin to open up again. On May 11th, Mayor John Tory announced the launch of ShopHERE, a recovery program to help Toronto independent businesses and artists open a free online store to minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you and your company are stuck during this pandemic, ShopHERE is a useful platform to relaunch your brand.
ShopHERE provides independent businesses and artists in Toronto the opportunity to develop an online store, which is built and launched for free. They provide hands-on support throughout the entire process ranging from volunteer website developers, to marketing and business students.
The services provided to Toronto’s independent businesses and artists are:
- A template to develop an online store on Shopify, customized with the company’s information, branding, logo, etc.
- Hands-on assistance setting up and launching their online store
- Training and support for digital marketing, shipping and operating an online store
- Access to free tools and online advertising credits to support the launch of their online store.
“The ShopHERE program is one of the many tools that the City, with the help of its corporate and community partners, is introducing to help local businesses mitigate COVID-19’s devastating effects and support their recovery efforts. I want to thank the Toronto tech community and Shopify for their outstanding collaboration and leadership.”
- Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
Surveys show that 72% of small businesses fear that they are unable to pay May’s rent. Around 50,000 Toronto businesses including restaurants, bars or cafes, are eligible for the ShopHERE program. ShopHERE is available now through the end of August with the City’s goal being to develop 3,000 online stores for Toronto independent businesses and artists.
The program launched with the help and support by a number of community partners, small vendors and our favourite corporate companies, including Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Shopify, Google, Mastercard, Microsoft, Facebook, Schulich School of Business of York University and more!
To help develop the stores, volunteers from Toronto’s technology community are contributing their time. A number of companies have already agreed to participate in the creation and exposure of the program. Toronto tech companies with an interest in supporting small independent businesses and artists are encouraged to assist if they can.
The ShopHERE program will be delivered via the Digital Main Street platform. Toronto independent businesses and artists can sign up for their free online store at ShopHERE. The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services and social supports. Check toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.