Using maps to support local business
In the past year we've seen how important it is to shop locally and support the local economy, in particular the small businesses that are so vital to a thriving community.
Last spring during the first lockdown, I created a map of businesses that offer local delivery or curbside pickup of groceries and household essentials. I'd been a member of the Food in Waterloo Region Facebook group for a while and asked for suggestions from that group. That's where I first posted this map:
It includes large chain supermarkets, because at the time I thought the most important thing was to make sure people didn't have to go into stores if they didn't want to. And many small local shops didn't have an online presence or weren't set up for delivery or curbside pickup.
A lot has changed since the summer. Many businesses have quickly set up online stores and become more active on social media to better serve a wider community that, more than ever, sees the importance of shopping locally.
Local business directories
Here are just a few lists of local businesses I've found:
- Operation Support Local - 570 News
- Waterloo Region BIPOC-Owned Shopping Guide - Explore Waterloo Region
- Uptown Waterloo BIA directory
- Shop Local Woolwich
- Waterloo Region: Local Shopping Guides - Travel with TMc
These lists are important for online-only businesses (myself included). We have our own websites and social media profiles to reach our existing customers, but these lists help more people find us.
Mapping local businesses
Stratford and Cambridge have included interactive maps with their listings, and I recently learned about a cartographer in Guelph who's created a Buy Local Map of Guelph - I find maps such as these very helpful. I used Stratford's map one afternoon last summer when searching for a restaurant within walking distance that offered takeout so I could have a picnic.
With the rapid growth of online shopping, it's more important than ever for brick-and-mortar businesses to build a local community to increase awareness of all local businesses. This summer when people start to wander through shopping districts again, community-built maps will be vital in bringing people to those areas.
There are many associations that supports business, such as a Chamber of Commerce or Business Improvement Area. Do they have directories to help local business? If so, talk to them about adding maps to those lists.
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