Toronto BIA presents a stark picture of the future for small businesses

Who: Toronto’s Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area and The Local Collective.

What: A stunt and ad campaign asking nearby residents to shop locally as much as possible this holiday season, rather than at big box stores or Amazon.

When & Where: The campaign started last week and will run through the holidays, using storefront and outdoor media space, along with DM and social.

Why: The pandemic has caused severe damage to small businesses throughout the year, and as COVID surges again, all non-essential retail in Toronto has been ordered closed at the start of the most important shopping season of the year—even though most big box retailers have been allowed to stay open.

The Roncesvalles BIA needed a campaign to remind people of how important those small businesses are to their community, and to remind them to shop with those small businesses as much as possible.

How: The campaign kicked off with an attention-grabbing stunt last Tuesday.

Like a visit from the ghost of Christmas Future, The Local Collective gave residents a scary glimpse into a possible future where many businesses have had to close. “For Lease” signage and brown craft paper covered the windows of 50 stores in the neighbourhood for a few hours last week. The striking visuals also attracted local and national media coverage, earning the stunt extra exposure.

Once the paper came down, business owners were asked to place campaign posters in their windows, with similar messaging being pushed out through OOH, direct mail and social.

And we quote: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our neighbourhoods in Toronto and of our country. It’s up to all of us to support what we have locally, when and if we can” — Kaitlin Doherty, founder and managing director, The Local Collective

David Brown