Roncesvalles stores stage stunt to encourage residents to shop local

By Faiza Amin and Quintin Bignell

Dozens of storefronts along Roncesvalles Avenue were covered with a “For Lease” sign Tuesday, providing a staunch reminder of what could happen if residents don’t shop local.

With the holiday season around the corner, the Roncesvalles Business Improvement Area (BIA) staged the stunt and is asking shoppers to give the Roncesvalles area “a new lease on life.”

“The objective is to draw attention to shopping local even during a time like this. It’s possible,” said Adam Langley, Vice-chair of the Roncesvalles BIA. “Whatever you need, especially during the holiday season, you can find it on Roncesvalles. You can find it on your main street. No matter where you live in the city.”

According to the BIA, over a dozen small local businesses have permanently closed along Roncesvalles Avenue since the pandemic began.

“We’re asking business owners, ‘How close are you to closing their doors?’ And we’re getting over 50 per cent of respondents saying, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to make it next month’,” said Langley.

While small shops have been largely hampered in the pandemic, big corporations like Amazon or Walmart remain open and are coming out on top.

“It’s really important that we draw awareness to what’s happening with all of our small businesses right now,” said Marcy Verburg, owner of Snap Fitness. “Especially at this time of year, because it is December and many of our small retailers, they make, 30 to 60 per cent of their yearly intake, just in this month.”

Although this is a campaign that started in Roncesvalles, the businesses involved are hoping this message stretches far beyond and that shoppers will prioritize local businesses this year.

While many Roncesvalles Village storefronts have temporarily closed because of the lockdown, online purchases and curbside pick-up is still being offered.

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