On May 11, 2020 the launch of ShopHERE was announced, a program to help Toronto independent businesses and artists open a free online store to minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ShopHERE is geared to Toronto independent businesses and artists, providing them the opportunity to develop a free online store. The City states that support will be provided to users throughout the entire process from volunteer website developers and marketing and business students.
The program has been created to provide Toronto’s independent businesses and artists with: templates, technical support, training for businesses on how to operate an online store, and access to advertising and promotional opportunities.
It is estimated by the City that 7,371 Toronto restaurants, bars or cafes, are eligible for the shopHERE program, and the goal is to develop 3,000 online stores for Toronto independent businesses and artists.
To help develop the stores, volunteers from Toronto’s technology community are contributing their time. A number of companies have already agreed to participate, including Global Skills Hub, Scotiabank, General Assembly, Brain Station, Juno, FreshBooks, NEXT Canada, TechTO, and TribalScale. Toronto tech companies with an interest in supporting small independent businesses and artists are encouraged to assist if they can.
The ShopHERE program will be delivered via the Digital Main Street platform. Toronto independent businesses and artists can sign up for their free online store at digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere.