By Trevor Greenway
It’s not easy out there. With the province’s second stay-at-home order this year, Ottawa residents, merchants and employees have been faced with another forced closure of businesses with only curbside pickup, delivery and takeout available to customers.
But despite not being able to walk into your favourite shop or restaurant to try on a new dress or share a meal with your new beau, there are still ways to support your favourite spots. While gift cards and online products won’t pay all the bills, every little bit helps, says Stephanie Boucher, owner of Stephanotis Hair.
“Selling gift cards and products help a tiny bit, but not enough to keep the lights on or pay your rent,” she says. Still, she adds, customers can simply email orders to email@example.com and pick them up curbside. Gift certificates are available at stephanotishair.ca.
“A big thank you to all of our clients for their ongoing support the last year,” she says.
Gift cards are a great way to support local service shops. Places like Silver Scissors Salon, Capital Barbershop, Hair on Second Avenue and Rinaldo’s can’t open during a shutdown, so purchasing gift cards puts cash in their hands and helps keep the lights on.
For retailers, it’s a bit easier but still a daunting task to convert in-store shoppers to online buyers. Just ask Compact Music owner Ian Boyd, who recently adapted his website into an e-commerce record shop to entice more music lovers to purchase the new record from Offspring or Death From Above 1979 online.
“The goal of the website is not only to convert existing customers to online but add to our customer base,” says Boyd. “Very good friends of the store will buy but to add to the customer base has been a challenge. We find that it is working as we recognize some of the individuals who pick up and we are also seeing new faces from website purchases. Remember that music lovers browse all stores as we all offer slightly different choices.”
Boyd feels music stores should be considered essential because music, “has a way of calming people,” especially during this challenging time.
“Music has been proven to help heal people and we need healing now as this pandemic continues seemingly unabated.”
Music isn’t the only true escape from the world around us; a good book can also transport you to another planet, another era or a completely new world. From entering a fantasy world constructed by the brilliant Anne Lacke to informing yourself on social movements like Black Lives Matter, Me Too and reconciliation, Octopus Books has the literature you should be reading right now.
“We have been encouraged by people’s commitment to our little store, supporting local and also the books we are selling,” says Lisa Greaves. “We have seen a huge increase in sales of books on anti-racism and works by black and indigenous authors and that has reinforced for us the value in what we are doing.”
Since the pandemic began last year, nearly every Glebe business has adapted some sort of online model. With everything from clothes and sporting goods to tools, building supplies and art available online, local merchants leave few excuses to shop outside the neighbourhood.
“A big thank you for the support and patience we have seen over the last year,” adds Greaves. “People have been flexible and kind and that has meant a lot.”
At JD Adam Kitchen, co-owner Jennifer Adam says her customers have been loyal even though she doesn’t have an e-commerce website. Customers browse the store website, call and email orders, then pick up curbside.
“It’s definitely a lot of work and sometimes works out and sometimes doesn’t but we’ve got to go with the flow,” says Adam. “We’re going to do our best to help you find what you’re looking for.” Customers are asked to call the store with credit card details and arrange a time for pickup. JD Adam will also deliver for $10 locally or farther away on orders over $75.
You can also help local businesses by writing a positive review on Google and posting photos of your purchases. Be sure to tag the businesses so more people will see your story and hear about the top-notch service you received. Word of mouth is sometimes the strongest factor when people are making purchases, so if you love the Glebe, tell the world just how much.
A little bit goes a long way in the Glebe, so support your local merchants because you can. Buy local, shop local, save local.
Looking for something else? Check out our online directory, which features restaurants, retail shops and services to browse from.
Trevor Greenway is responsible for communications and membership at the Glebe BIA (Business Improvement Area).