Shop Local initiative to help improve Richmond Hill business environment

Program gets off to fast start with Shop Local face masks

Shop Local example
The Value Village location by Yonge and Oxford streets at noon on Sunday, Jan. 24 remains closed. If it were not for the lockdown, this store would have several people employed and working. Jesse Gault/Toronto Observer

Richmond Hill deputy mayor Carmine Perrelli has developed an initiative to distribute free masks, which say “Richmond Hill SHOP LOCAL” on the side, starting Jan. 20. This move is in response to the pandemic and the lockdown’s impact on local businesses.

For the businesses lucky enough to be open, the shop local push has two goals: helping people express pride in the community and showing solidarity with business owners and their employees facing difficult situations, Perrelli said.

Richmond Hill councillor David West said, the lockdown is putting entrepreneurs and small businesses in a place from which they need to recover.

As people wear these masks in public spaces or on the property of local businesses, they will help develop a supportive environment in the community for struggling entrepreneurs and their employees, West said.

Perrelli said his aim was to distribute 10,000 masks. At least 4,500 were quickly ordered by residents as the program began.

Amanda Spiteri of Ginger’s Cupcakes & Desserts in Richmond Hill and Aurora, said the business is “busier than ever” and offering treats that cheer people up during a tough time.

Customers are happy to provide business to a local bakery, Spiteri said.

On the other hand, West said, some local entrepreneurs have spent years building and developing a business but are now facing the implications of “Public Health restrictions,” a loss of revenue and “the cost” of “safety precautions.”

Of course, the bigger problem is the virus and the lockdown is necessary to overcome the pandemic. However this lockdown is acting as a challenge to residents’ ability to run small businesses. 

On top of  the lockdown there are specific challenges business owners need to address, such as buying and using PPE, West said. 

The lockdown needs to end and the way to do that is to adequately vaccinate our community, he said.

West noted groups, like the Recover Richmond Hill Task Force, are working to overcome the obstacles local businesses face.

One offer of support to local but troubled businesses is the provision of a grant of up to $20,000, according to the Richmond Hill website.  

For organizations which remain operational, the Shop Local initiative will hopefully spur an increase in the number of customers, the website notes.

However, this initiative can do little for businesses that have closed. 

There are no perfect solutions to the challenges local entrepreneurs are facing.

That is why efforts like the Shop Local initiative are so important. It is necessary to collaborate and work hard to address the local economic strain.

If local businesses are supported during the lockdown and pandemic, the degree to which they must rebuild after all this is over may be minimized. 

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Posted: Jan 29 2021 12:08 pm
Filed under: Business Community COVID-19 News