Toronto BIA turning local shoppers into superheroes

Who: Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area with The Local Collective.

What: “Local Heroes,” a new campaign encouraging people to shop at locally owned businesses by offering them a chance to be turned into a comic book superhero.

When & Where: The campaign fittingly launches today—National Superhero Day, as everyone knows—and will run for six weeks around the West Toronto neighbourhood, known affectionately as Roncy.

Why: All of Ontario is back in lockdown during the third wave of the pandemic, and local businesses are, once again, being hit hard. The Roncesvalles BIA hired The Local Collective as its AOR last year and has been working with the agency to remind people in the community to shop local as much as they can.

“We’re a small business, we obviously believe in the power of local—it’s in our name,” said Matt Litzinger, founder, president and CCO of The Local Collective. “We genuinely care about what’s happening to the neighbourhoods across the city and we really want to do work that hopefully makes a real difference.”

In the fall, the agency created a stark picture of how struggling stores could be closed without local support by putting “for lease” signs in 50 storefronts. “Local Heroes” is a bit more playful and colourful, but with the same underlying message.

“This was a natural follow-up to the ‘Not for lease’ campaign, because what we saw was overwhelming support from the community,” said Kaitlin Doherty, founder and managing director of The Local Collective, in a release announcing the campaign. “People shopping locally, supporting their local small and independent businesses, have quite literally saved the lives of these incredible staples in the neighbourhood. The community deserves to be showcased for the superheroes they truly are.”

How: People are being encouraged to share their local Roncesvalles purchases on social media using the hashtag #LocalRoncyHero. The call to action is being shared by the Roncesvalles BIA and local businesses. Each week, “someone with a lot of posts” will be chosen as the winner, and the agency will turn them into a comic book superhero in a hand-drawn comic book cover that will be shared on social media and turned into posters displayed in businesses around the neighbourhood. They will also receive a printed and framed copy of their superhero cover.

And we quote: “Roncy stepped up, came out and has continued to come to the local and independent businesses’ rescue. It’s important as we all go through this really trying time to celebrate and thank those people that have made a difference and this community needs to be thanked.” — Adam Langley, vice-chair Roncesvalles Village BIA

David Brown