Toronto launches program to help local businesses open free online stores

May 11 2020, 1:32 pm

Mayor John Tory announced the launch of ShopHERE, a program to help Toronto independent businesses and artists open a free online store to minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Tory said the program will be built and launched for free in just a matter of days.

“This pandemic has taken a significant toll on residents, businesses and artists,” Tory said.

The initial program is available now through the end of August and the City’s goal is to develop 3,000 online stores for Toronto independent businesses and artists.

According to the city, an estimated 49,501 Toronto business, 7,371 of them restaurants, bars or cafes, are eligible for ShopHERE.

Hands-on support will be provided throughout the entire process from volunteer website developers and marketing and business students.

The program will provide Toronto’s independent businesses and artists with a template to develop an online store on Shopify, customized with their information, branding and logo.

There will also be training and support for digital marketing, shipping and operating an online store

And, access to free tools and online advertising credits to support the launch of their online store.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to help our mainstreet small businesses get through this crisis. The ShopHERE program would not be possible without the generous community and corporate support of our partners,” Tory said.

“Today, I am issuing a challenge for more Toronto technology companies to get involved – as they have done countless times during this pandemic – and volunteer to build online stores for Toronto’s independent businesses and artists to help them survive and recover.”

The ShopHERE program will be delivered via the Digital Main Street platform, where independent businesses and artists can sign up for their free online store immediately.

The ShopHere program is a part of the Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force’s short-term economic support and recovery plan for Toronto’s businesses.

Earlier on Monday, retail businesses with street access also reopened, offering curbside pickup and delivery.

But, as the city slowly starts to reopen and assist local businesses in sustaining profitability during the pandemic, there are still an increase in coronavirus cases.

According to Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, there are 144 new cases, making the total 7,557, but 5,340 patients have recovered.

De Villa confirmed that the first COVID-19 related death occurred in with a resident the shelter system at Dickson Hall-School House.

“He died in a hospital and we extend our sincerest condolences,” de Villa said.

Toronto Medical Officer of Health confirmed that the outbreak declared at the shelter was officially announced to be clear on May 5 and that all affected clients were tested.

De Villa also emphasized that contact tracing is ramping up, with 500 Toronto Public Health staff on case investigations and tracing with an additional 40 volunteers also analyzing the patients.

Initially at the start of the pandemic, every infected individual was transmitting the virus on average to three people and now an infected patient is transmitting the virus to just one other.

This means the virus is now doubling every seven days, whereas before it was every four days.