Tombstones are popping up outside Toronto small businesses

Jun 7 2021, 9:22 pm

As a way to highlight the challenges faced by small businesses have faced during the pandemic tombstone posters are popping up in the windows of local Toronto businesses

The graveyard images are part of a campaign called “Buy Toronto Time.” Launched by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) it is a reminder of the past year’s hardships and a symbol of encouragement for Torontonians to buy locally.

“‘Buy Toronto Time’ is about the life or death of an individual business in our city’s neighbourhoods,” John Kiru, executive director of TABIA said in a news release. “With a possible end to the pandemic insight, Torontonians may think that means all businesses will live on. But the fact is they need support now more than ever.”


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The customized tombstone posters contain the businesses’ name and the year founded. The second date is blank, signalling the potential loss.

About 400 Toronto businesses have put tombstones in their windows so far.

“Our customers need to know that the survival of local businesses is in their hands,” Tex Thomas, owner of Pro League Sports, said. “By shopping local they have the power to help us survive. So many businesses have already closed, people need to rally to save those of us who are left.”

Tens of thousands of businesses have closed during the pandemic. According to Tabia, the latest estimations suggest the average Canadian small business is $150,000 to $170,000 in debt,

Many of the businesses participating in the tombstone initiative are in Parkdale, Riverside, Leslieville, Broadview Danforth, and GreekTown. Other businesses interested in joining can also get their own poster.

“It’s the local businesses that make each Toronto neighbourhood feel unique—certainly here in GreekTown,” Mary Fragedakis, executive director of GreekTown on the Danforth BIA, said. “If they disappear, our community just won’t be the same.”

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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