FILE – Piya Sandhu, of White Rock’s The Handpicked Home, is a small business owner in White Rock. (Black Press Media files)

FILE – Piya Sandhu, of White Rock’s The Handpicked Home, is a small business owner in White Rock. (Black Press Media files)

Gift card purchases could help small Canadian businesses cope with COVID-19: experts

There are 1.14 million small businesses in Canada, accounting for 97.9 per cent of the country’s employers

As a novel coronavirus outbreak spreads across the country, Canadians rushing to stock up on groceries and other essentials are being encouraged to add something else to their shopping carts: gift cards from local small businesses.

The companies and organizations promoting such purchases say gift cards offer a quick injection of cash for the businesses expected to be hit hardest by the virus known as COVID-19 a quick injection of cash. It will come in handy as they temporarily close, see their inventory dwindle or have to figure out how to pay workers and bills with less income.

“There are tons of businesses that are going to be really having their beginning of the year really gutted as a result of the increasing cost of self-isolating,” said Dan Kelly, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents 110,000 small and medium businesses across the country.

“If you’re a small hair salon nail salon trying to hang on during this difficult time, the future of your business may be in jeopardy, so buying a gift card or booking a service a few months in advance can be really really helpful signals to the business owner, that brighter days are around the corner and they should try to stick it out.”

Borders, cases, bans: What you need to know about Canada and B.C.’s COVID-19 response

There are 1.14 million small businesses in Canada, accounting for 97.9 per cent of the country’s employers, according to Statistics Canada data from December 2017.

Those in the food industry typically grapple with low margins, while small businesses across all sectors often face increasing rents, rising supply costs, regulations necessitating wage hikes and trouble competing with large enterprises that have bigger budgets and more of a safety net.

It’s a situation Type Books, an independent bookstore with three Toronto locations, can sympathize with.

Kyle Buckley, the manager of the Queen Street location, said Type Books closed its doors to foot traffic on Monday, but would be accepting phone orders and making curbside deliveries to Toronto’s west end.

Type Books was also suggesting fans of the store support it with gift cards.

“We think it’s important to take care of each other…and a lot of the time that means people whose businesses or whose livelihoods because of their work are really drastically affected by closures and people staying home,” Buckley said.

That sentiment also appeared on social media.

The Alpine, a mountain lodge-themed bar in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood, tweeted that phoning in a food order for pickup or grabbing a gift card is appreciated because “rent in our beautiful building ain’t cheap, and we are cancelling some, if not all of our scheduled events.”

The Storm Crow — a business behind science fiction-inspired bars in Vancouver and Toronto – sweetened the deal by throwing in a $5 “loot card” for anyone who shells out $50 on a gift certificate.

But not all small businesses can rely on the gift card idea.

Tour Guys and Ontario branches of Urban Adventures, for example, offer free walking tours in several cities, but ask that guides be tipped. Despite having a low overhead, both businesses are being hampered by closed borders being closed and suspended air travel, said owner Jason Kucherawy.

The companies have about a dozen guides, including several who are artists. They have seen several cancellations recently and had to block tourists from booking walks in coming weeks.

To show support for his companies, Kucherawy said it would be helpful to book a tour in advance, but only “once they feel comfortable planning their travel again.”

For businesses without gift card options, Kelly recommends calling and asking them how you can best support them.

Sometimes it’s as simple as making a dinner reservation for a few months from now. Other times it’s not cancelling an order you made earlier in the year.

“I heard one great example of a bar mitzvah that was cancelled, and the family that had booked the caterer still took delivery of all the food and then had it delivered to all of their friends,”said Kelly.

Canada has reported more than 320 cases of COVID-19, but the global total is much higher.

Those found to have the virus typically experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.

The vast majority recover, but for some, including Canadians aged 65 and over and those with compromised immune systems or pre-existing conditions, the illness can be much more severe.

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Joseph Albert Brooks, 94-years-young pf Prince Rupert offers traditional prayers and smudging to the sick. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Heart of our City: Joseph Albert Brooks keeps smudging and praying for others

94-year-old Tsimshian elder just wants some help washing his floors

Land along Prince Rupert’s waterfront, PID 012-247-391, where residents say excessive industrial train noise is stemming from, has been found to be owned by the City of Prince Rupert and is not federal land like first presented, Prince Rupert Environmental Society stated on June 17. (Image: supplied by Land Title and Survey, Govt. of BC.)
Error found on land titles map may assist city with noise control enforcement of industry

Prince Rupert residents had been told there was no municipal jurisdiction to enforce noise bylaws

Department of Oceans and Fisheries has announced as of July 19 chinook salmon is not to be fished in certain areas in BC tidal waters until July. Spring chinook salmon are seen swimming. (Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Chinook Salmon limits set to zero in some BC tidal waters

DFO implement restrictions to protect Chinook Salmon

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read