Did you know that the Cambridge area is home to more than 6,000 businesses, most of which are locally-owned and operated 'independent' businesses?
Neither do many people when we introduce them to ShopCambridge.ca. Not only do many not know how many businesses there are, they have no idea just how many products and services are available locally without going to a chain store or shopping online with Amazon.
In general most of what we need can be found in our own backyard with some
'thoughtful searching', but it requires more effort than some people are willing to
spend to find out what is available. All this, while big box stores
and online mega stores with more marketing power are capturing
customers' purchases and drawing them in and away from the downtown core
and local independent businesses.
How It Works
To reverse this trend, we've built a local online marketplace and directory that features local businesses and the products and services they offer. The site is accessible from both computers and smart phones via a mobile version.
ShopCambridge.ca's community marketplace enables consumers to buy online for in-store pick-up or delivery, read and write business reviews, purchase online gift certificates, view restaurant menus, find out when businesses are open and how they can be paid, as well as contact business owners via email.
As you can imagine, all of these features offer both businesses and consumers tons of value, but the real power of ShopCambridge.ca is the offline community marketing campaign that involves hundreds of businesses displaying signs and stickers that remind locals to shop locally at ShopCambridge.ca.
By coming together under a common message that also drives people to a web destination where they can take action, ShopCambridge.ca harnesses the collective power of the local business community to give independents a voice that's even louder than the big corporate brands that dot the landscape.
Because local independent businesses generally keep more of the money spent with them within the community than corporate chains (45% for independent vs. 15% for chains), shopping with local businesses leads to a stronger local economy.
This benefits everyone in the community as strong local economies provide greater access to opportunities and also more funding for local initiatives like parks and recreation, services and infrastructure, health and education.
By informing local shoppers about the choices available to them, as well as the hidden benefits of shopping locally, ShopCambridge.ca aims to influence residents to spend more of their money locally instead of sending their dollars outside of the community where it will benefit someone else's area instead of our own.
Meet the Owner
Heather Van Patter grew up in Cambridge, Ontario. She lived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for ten years, completing a Bachelor of Commerce degree, owning and operating several restaurants, a couple of boutiques, a car rental agency and a franchised ice cream shop. Heather also did a lot of consulting for start-up and troubled local businesses, opening the door to consulting work in Texas and Florida. After settling again in Cambridge, Heather was looking for a new business venture that combined her love for small, local businesses and her desire to help them succeed.
“It is my mission to help you use the internet to drive more revenue for your local business, and in turn, create a stronger local economy.” says Heather. She hopes that by lending her expertise and extensive experience, she will help business owners and customers alike shop local first.
What You Can Do
There are several easy steps you can take to help us build up the community and support local businesses:
- Use ShopCambridge.ca as often as possible to learn what's available locally.
- Make informed purchases and consider the total impact of your spending, not just the price you pay.
- Encourage great local business owners to keep going by posting reviews on their profile pages.
- Buy our local gift certificates instead of plastic gift cards from big box stores.
- Frequent locally-owned restaurants instead of the national chains.
- We can always use more help spreading the word, and I greatly appreciate those who help convey the message by putting up signs and stickers or linking to ShopCambridge.ca online.
Click here to request free stickers or a badge for your website.
Thanks for taking the time to read about ShopCambridge.ca. We are passionate about building up Cambridge and love to connect with like-minded individuals.
Feel free to use the comments below to let us know about things you're doing to spread the word about shopping locally or to make Cambridge a stronger, more vibrant community.