Today, Mayor John Tory announced the new ShopHERE program that will help independent businesses and artists open free online stores. Intended to support businesses and artists through the COVID-19 pandemic, the ShopHere program is being run by Digital Main Street now through the end of August and intends to develop 3,000 online stores. The new program was developed as part of the Mayor's Economic Support and Recovery Task Force's short-term economic support and recovery plan for Toronto's businesses and targets small, independent ‘main street’ businesses and local arts makers without a digital presence.
Supports provided by ShopHERE include a template to develop an online store on Shopify, customized branding, hands-on assistance with their website’s development and launch, training for digital marketing and logistics, and free tools and advertising credits. This will be of particular value to small and independent businesses who may have had trouble adapting ecommerce tools and for landlords looking for resources for lessees who may need concrete assistance with developing their web presence. Businesses and artists who wish to participate in the ShopHERE program can do so here.
It is estimated that just over 49,500 businesses are eligible for the ShopHere program, including 7,371 restaurants, bars and cafes. Community and corporate partners supporting the program include the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), Shopify, Google, Mastercard, Microsoft, and others. Corporate volunteers from Toronto’s technology community contributing their time include Global Skills Hub, Scotiabank, General Assembly, Brain Station, Juno, FreshBooks, NEXT Canada, TechTO and TribalScale.