The City of Calgary has launched ShopHERE, powered by Google, which provides free online stores to small business owners and artists.
“Being digital can increase a business’s resilience during a crisis that requires them to close their doors,” said Sonya Sharp, leader of Business and Local Economy at The City of Calgary, in a news release. “In order to be competitive they’ve had to venture into online and ecommerce – it’s essential for businesses to have that option to stay in business and stay competitive.”
The City said it is providing up to 400 more businesses with this opportunity between February 1 and March 31. The initiative has federal support.
The City said ShopHERE’s goal is to get 50,000 companies Canadawide online so they can reach a wider audience for their products and bring in new revenue. They hire university students to build these websites for registered small businesses, including home-based companies, artists, service providers like hair salons and auto shops, and more. The offer is first come, first served with 400 spots available. Business owners can register at digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere.
The first phase of ShopHERE in Calgary in the fall had 45 websites created with more in the works. One of those businesses was Gravity Espresso and Wine Bar.
“As a business owner you keep going, you try your hardest . . . if we didn’t have access to these subsidies there’s no way we’d be still be open. Everything that has been offered to us for help and assistance we’ve had has been pretty easy to apply for. I only have gratitude to The City, the Province and the federal government for all the help they’ve given us,” said Owner Andy Fennel.
A video of the initiative can be seen here.