Guelph Shops started as a pandemic initiative to promote local businesses but will carry on through recovery and beyond.
“It has been very popular with businesses and residents. People want to support their local businesses and this makes it easy to do so,” said Kurtis Wells, marketing and events coordinator with the City of Guelph’s Economic Development and Tourism division.
Guelph Shops is a partnership between the City of Guelph, Invest in Guelph, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and the University of Guelph.
Since the launch, Guelph Shops has continually grown adding new businesses and developing new creative ways to feature the great businesses located in Guelph. Guelph’s business community has appreciated the support and that the City and its partners are giving visibility to local restaurants, service providers and merchants, the majority of which are independent, says Wells.
“This has been a way to give back. It’s free of charge to participate and we have written spotlight profiles that have humanized the stories and allowed readers to get to know the owner and the business. There are so many hidden gems in our city.”
The initiative, which includes an online hub to search for products and services, along with an advertising and social media campaign and coverage from local news media, puts a priority on showcasing the diversity of businesses and entrepreneurs in Guelph. It also promotes how businesses adapted and pivoted in response to the pandemic.
“As long as it’s possible to search for Guelph businesses, we add the platform because we want to make it as easy as possible to find local businesses with the product or service people are looking for,” said Wells.
The goal was to make the program as user-friendly as possible for businesses, so they received a social media toolkit to promote their participation, along with stickers to display in their storefronts.
The idea for Guelph Shops came out of the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery and was immediately embraced, says Wells.
“Guelph looks at everything as a partnership.”
Throughout the pandemic, the city’s business community has pulled together and Wells says he expects that will be true throughout the recovery, as well.
“What we’ve seen is what we expected from such a giving community. Businesses have persevered, worked together and found ways to alter their course. How everyone has risen to the occasion has been remarkable to see.”
Wells says Guelph Shops will help fuel great pent-up demand to visit local business districts and eateries.
“Prioritizing and promoting local businesses has never been more important,” said Shakiba Shayani, president & CEO of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce. “Guelph Shops is a thoughtful campaign for business owners and community members to engage in as we work to rebuild Guelph’s economic prosperity.”
In addition to Guelph Shops, City economic development staff have focused on providing easy-to understand and timely information to business owners about government programs and funding that could help them weather the storm, says Wells.
Residents are encouraged to visit guelphshops.ca to begin their next local purchase and share it using #GuelphShops. Businesses are also encouraged to list their business on the site, free of charge, if they haven’t already done so and to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like to be featured in a free Guelph Shops Business Spotlight Profile.
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