“While I’m thrilled that the movement is there, it is competing with a pretty strong crosswind, and those are the business restrictions that are driving newer customers into big-box and Amazon,” said Kelly. “I think the Buy Local initiatives halted some of the losses, but unfortunately it won’t be enough to keep most small retailers alive.”
Not everything is grim. One Toronto company, Stainsby Studios, was amazed at the three-fold increase in ceramic sales after being featured on Not Amazon. Another, Glad Day Bookshop, which sells a variety of LGBTQ titles, said the initiative increased Christmas sales by 30 percent.
Like many other shopkeepers, Mary Oliveira was scared when the country’s first lockdown went into effect in March. But her five-year-old chocolate shop in Toronto, Mary’s Brigadeiro, was fortunate to have an existing online presence that brought in stable income throughout the pandemic, she said.
In the past few weeks, numerous new customers have told Ms. Oliveira that they found her store through Not Amazon, which she had been added to but had never heard of.
“We found more people were pushing to shop locally,” said Ms. Oliveira, 30, who was surprised that 27 percent of her online shoppers came through Not Amazon. “That meant we were sold out for the entire season a week ago. It has never happened before. “
In November she hired four more people and is now considering opening additional locations in Toronto. Ms. Oliveira, a native of Brazil, said the Buy Local initiative had rekindled a sense of belonging, especially when she saw the numerous shipments from Amazon while local businesses were struggling.
Ms. Oliveira said dealing with shipping delays as a small business owner is frustrating, while customers said Amazon is much faster.