#ShopItForward initiative encourages people to buy gift cards from small businesses

Mar 26 2020, 1:12 pm

Our lives are changing day-by-day right now, and with so much to digest, it’s important to know exactly where to direct our energy to help those in need.

According to Paul and Melissa Meehan, a bit of retail therapy is what the world really needs right now. From four years worth of haircuts from their local barbershop, to 100 advance pints of beers, the Vancouver business couple that founded Goodridge & Williams Distillery & Cocktail Co. and NUTRL Vodka, told Daily Hive they are shopping local every day to generate “cashflow now.”

Although we’re facing a complex issue, Paul Meehan says that right now simplicity is key, and one of the most straightforward ways people can give back to the community is by buying a gift card. 

“Honestly, I think the gift card is one of the simplest ways. So many businesses have access to do that. I just bought a bunch of wine and gift cards from Wildebeest and it was really easy.”

Meehan, who is a big believer in local charities, believes buying local is more important than ever.

Just one family or one person doing is not the idea. It’s getting lots of people doing it.”

The idea to give back in a time of need started when Meehan bought 100 “advance pints” from the Irish Heather on St Patrick’s Day. “It was just an idea, but it kind of caught on,” says Meehan.

Meehan says that he’s “buying something everyday” right now, but stresses that he knows not everyone is in a financial position to do so — just if you can, every little bit makes a big difference. “Can you imagine some of these small operators? They’re terrified right now.”

Meehan says that one of the biggest barriers for local businesses right now is their access to gift cards. The businessman says that if small businesses are struggling to set up gift cards, they should reach out and ask for help from their point of sale system — and that anyone able to lend a hand with this technology should also publicly offer their expertise.

If you’re keen on getting involved and Shopping It Forward, make sure you post what you buy on social media, using the hashtag #shopitforward. 

And giving back to local businesses isn’t limited to your favourite restaurant, either. Meehan encourages people to be as creative as possible. If you’re stuck for ideas on where to give back, “have the local flower person send flowers to the older couple down the street. There’s so much you can do,” Meehan said.

According to Meehan, it’s “many hands” and the small things that make a difference during this time.

“People probably aren’t jumping up and down to buy flowers right now, but what a difference that can make.”