How 5 Small Businesses Reinvented Themselves Amid COVID-19

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By Digital Main Street

COVID-19 has closed the doors of countless retailers, but has also presented a unique opportunity for businesses to expand their e-commerce capabilities.

Over the last few years, there has been an increasing call for digital transformation amongst small to large retailers. As the COVID-19 crisis hit, it’s no surprise that there was a massive spike in e-commerce sales. As a direct result, retailers have felt an accelerated call for a functional online presence.

In response to the countless small businesses in need of a quick pivot to digital, Digital Main Street partnered with Google to launch the ShopHERE Program. The program offers small businesses one-to-one assistance in building an online store with associated training. 

Digital Main Street is proud to be supporting brick-and-mortar retailers who have had to shut their doors. Equally, they are excited to be a part of home-based retailers’ venture into e-commerce, as they have an unprecedented opportunity to reach a wide audience.  

Businesses across Ontario are getting online by the thousands, as communities experience a growing desire to shop local.

Amidst the turbulence in multiple industries–with retail being no exception, the retail industry is experiencing a unique movement where local shoppers are committing to shop local more than ever.

Some of Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE graduates are leveraging this momentum and going through the program to take their businesses to the next level. The success stories coming out of the program are a testament to the resilience of small retailers amidst COVID-19, as well as the drive of home-based retailers taking a leap into digital.

Read the success stories of 5 small businesses who reinvented themselves in this global moment–stories of owners who made an opportunity out of a challenge through the ShopHERE Program.


Little Chief & Co. of St. Catharines

Port Dalhousie-born and bred, Jen and Mike McKenna always dreamed of opening their own premium canine outfitter–Little Chief. This local pet store was forced to shut down amidst COVID-19 but responded by getting online.

“The ShopHERE program has been vital to our business during the COVID-19 crisis, allowing us to quickly pivot from our brick and mortar storefront to being fully online, while offering curbside pick-up and free local delivery.” 


PLENTEA of Toronto

After four and a half years, the owners of PLENTEA, a local tea cafe in downtown Toronto, have decided to close its doors because of COVID-19. However, they are grateful for the program, which allowed them to continue business online.

“The ShopHERE PRogram was great because you actually have a consultant at your fingertips to fine tune your website. Going online is definitely the way of the future.” 


Inamullumani of Toronto

Luma is an acclaimed jewelery designer whose collection has been showcased at international exhibitions. However, like many business owners operating in the midst of COVID-19, attracting new customers is harder than ever. While many entrepreneurs know that taking their businesses online is a solution to helping keep their clientele, the work associated with going digital can often become overwhelming or disincentivizing. 

“Getting online is a step I always pushed away as I never felt comfortable doing it on my own. The ShopHERE Program is a godsend for small businesses and artists! Having a store online made it easy for me to stay connected with my clients all over the world. It was a great learning experience.”


Opeongo Soaps of Eganville

It has always been Opeongo Soaps owner, Tammy’s dream to have an online store, but she never had the time or technical skills to do so. She worked closely with her ShopHERE Helper to create a fully functional and personalized e-commerce website. Otherwise, she states taht she would have never been able to afford setting up an e-commerce platform for her small business.

“Without the ShopHERE program I would never have been able to afford to have it professionally done! I have all my needs met on one platform! My Helper was able to research and find the perfect apps to help me with my wholesale accounts as well. The time I will save in just creating shipping labels is mind blowing!” 


Smellis Beard Oil of Chatham

Smellis Beard Oil has seen immense growth following its entrance into the digital world. Having an e-commerce website supported the adjacent growth of the small business. With limited e-commerce experience, a ShopHERE Helper was able to help this small business get online in a matter of days.  

“I had 2 orders within two days of going live! I hadn’t had an order in months. Programs like the ShopHERE one are available to help small businesses in ways that might have never been possible before.”

Looking for more ShopHERE success stories–perhaps in your region? Check out Digital Main Street’s Success Stories page, which is updated periodically.

Small businesses are the fabric of any community’s pulse. Let’s do our part and support local. 

Are you a medium to large retailer? Are there any small retailers or home-based businesses you can nominate for the program? Send them to the ShopHERE page for more info.

*Retail Insider has partnered with Digital Main Street on content about small businesses in Canada.



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