Local businesses do the Digital Pandemic Pivot – with unexpectedly good results

“Because we moved virtual, we added Santa Experiences for kids, including Santa Zoom where parents sign up for time slots and kids have a video chat with Santa. We ask parents the kids’ names, notable things that happened to them that year so we can tailor their sessions. It is super personalized. Parents can also add on a Magic Package or do a Santa Selfie – photos in front of a huge inflatable snow globe with Santa inside,” said Jessica.

At Monora Park, the number of vendors was capped at 30 due to space. With no cap on virtual markets, vendors have almost doubled to 55. 

And that 2019 goal of doubling the amount of money given to local charities? Shop With Purpose had already exceeded it, raising $4,299 even before December is counted.

Digital or Bust

The Pandemic Pivot has caused other local businesses to discover new markets and new business models – practices they say are here to stay.

When the bottom fell out of the tourist industry this year, prospects looked bleak for Aileen Jenkins at Seasons Home and Gift in Elora. “While we have an abundance of local support,” she said, “we do have an extended tourist season where we get visitors from all over the world – obviously a vital part of our business.”

Previously, Seasons Home and Gift did not even have a website. “We had always intended to get one, but being self-employed other things take priority and that fell to the back burner.” Now it was at the top of the priority list. After struggling to build a website on her own, she called Dufferin Media, which promptly set up an online store on Shopify. 

They also offered free local deliveries and personal shopping appointments outside of business hours on FaceTime. Response has been so positive, they plan to keep this up even after the pandemic becomes a thing of the past.

Likewise, Orangeville’s go-to games room, Koros Games, tapped into e-commerce and expanded its customer base after the COVID-19 lockdown forced its hand. 

Loved locally as a space to buy, trade, and play games and cards in a friendly environment, Koros Games completely revamped its website and uploaded all of its products online when it had to close its doors. 

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