With their vast shipping and distribution operations, big retailers like Amazon and Walmart enjoyed increased sales throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, while small local stores, which rely far more on walk-in and in-person sales, have suffered declines. According to one estimate, one in every seven businesses in Canada is likely to terminate its operations, unable to survive the challenges of the pandemic. In response, one savvy list-maker, with a Google spreadsheet and a good memory, created a compendium, off the top of her head, of 160 local companies that offered online orders and deliveries. Then in a nod to her overriding goal, the Toronto resident purchased the domain name “Not-Amazon.ca,” posted the link to her list to Instagram, and tagged a few shop owners she knew. Pretty soon, the site had half a million views, and hundreds of companies were asking to be added. Today, it features about 4000 retailers, in Toronto but also Halifax, Calgary, and Vancouver. Anecdotal evidence from the store owners frequently suggests that being on the list increases those firms’ sales by around 30 percent, due to the greater exposure they gain. Such success has prompted the founder to make plans to expand into other cities, with the hope and promise that consumers truly want to buy local, not from Amazon, to support and maintain the unique shops and retail offerings that make their town or city feel like home.
Source: Geneva Abdul, “A Canadian ‘Buy Local’ Effort Fights Amazon on its Own Turf,” The New York Times, January 2, 2021