A Halifax-based website that has been keeping consumers abreast of all the retail happenings for the past eight years has launched an initiative to help small businesses through this tough economic challenge resulting from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Halifax ReTales, a tracker of the goings on in the Halifax Regional Municipality retail and restaurant scene, is asking consumers to invest in their establishments and stores by buying gift cards for future use.
“Our small businesses need us more than ever. It’s basically a mini-loan, so buy one now and make a plan to use it later,” says the website.
Arthur Gaudreau, who is behind the website, said when the coronavirus broke out ReTales started gathering a list of what was open and what was closed. The information was crowd sourced, he built a spreadsheet and from there it was posted on the website.
“So people would know what was open or closed. Were their favourite restaurants open or were they closed? Were they offering takeout, were they offering delivery? Could you go in? When I started it people could still sit down. The day after I put up the list that all changed and all the bars had to close. No longer were we allowed to sit in restaurants,” said Gaudreau.
“I created a secondary site to focus on our local companies where people could just click on the links of the logos of their favourite companies and it would take them to the site where they could buy a gift card for those companies. I focused on the local companies in that situation. I wasn’t going to tell someone how to buy a Walmart gift card online or anything like that.
“The focus on that was basically you could invest in some of your favourite companies for when they come back online and you’ve already given them a micro-loan in the meantime.”
Gaudreau said entrepreneurs’ livelihoods are now at stake.
“What I’m really worried about is what’s going to happen when all this is done. So many companies are already on the edge. What is this going to do? Even with the gift cards, I’m encouraging people to buy gift cards but it’s almost like gambling because what if they don’t come back,” he said.
“I want people to support these companies but at the same time we’re all in a situation where our work has gone weird. Where’s your income coming from?”
Gaudreau said information is important for people particularly in these challenging, and ever-changing times.
“That’s what I want to get out there. Everything I do and talk about in my blog is based on these people and the service industry and the retail industry which so immediately got decimated by this. I had to give something back. I had to do something to help in some manner. I’m not rich in any manner. I can’t float them. But at the same time I had to do something and I knew that I could do something quick and I have the right audience to help me get that information quickly and then disseminate back to everyone,” explained Gaudreau.