City offering small business ecommerce support through ShopHERE grants
Many small businesses in Calgary continue struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s definitely not business as usual. Some who had to reduce hours, staffing or close their brick-and-mortar locations simply didn't have a way to continue operations.
That's why we're helping local businesses move online and helping them to be more resilient.
The City of Calgary is proud to offer ShopHERE powered by Google, providing free online stores to small business owners and artists. Thanks to federal support, we’re happy to announce that we’re providing up to 400 more businesses with this opportunity between Feb. 1 and March 31.
“Being digital can increase a business’s resilience during a crisis that requires them to close their doors,” says Sonya Sharp, leader of Business and Local Economy at The City of Calgary. “In order to be competitive they’ve had to venture into online and ecommerce - it’s essential for businesses to have that option to stay in business and stay competitive.”
Local businesses are a major driver of our local economy. Whether it’s creating another avenue for to reach customers or reducing our business-related fees, The City understands the importance of supporting all businesses - especially those that are looking to try new things.
During the first phase of ShopHERE in Calgary this fall, 45 websites were created with more in the works. One of those businesses was Gravity Espresso and Wine Bar. Owner Andy Fennell says this was the answer he was looking for when he began searching for opportunities to keep his espresso and wine bar earning revenue.
“As a business owner you keep going, you try your hardest… if we didn’t have access to these subsidies there’s no way we’d be still be open. Everything that has been offered to us for help and assistance we’ve had has been pretty easy to apply for. I only have gratitude to The City, the Province and the federal government for all the help they’ve given us.”
Since launching his online retail menu offering the café’s popular soups, quiches, cakes and granola for take home at the end of November, it’s been a great success.
“It’s been very helpful through the pandemic with some extra revenue leading up to Christmas. I’m very grateful we’ve got it in place.”
The realities facing small business are challenging. With low revenue and rent still needing to be paid, businesses need a separate avenue that doesn’t add additional costs. To have an ecommerce site to be able to sell products online is essential for survival for many small businesses.
ShopHERE’s goal is to get 50,000 deserving companies Canada-wide online so they can reach a wider audience for their products and bring in new revenue. They hire university students to build these websites for registered small businesses, including home-based companies, artists, service providers like hair salons and auto shops, and more. The offer is first come, first served with 400 spots available. Business owners can register at https://programs.digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere-signup-ab.
Fennell’s message to Calgarians is clear: “Go out and support local – look after the local businesses and if you can afford it, spend some money, and hopefully we come out of this stronger.”