Many are questioning the fairness of the provincial government’s lockdown restrictions that seem to unnecessarily target and punish small businesses. While the lockdown prevents ‘non-essential’ small businesses from accepting foot traffic, large corporate chains can continue welcoming all customers and profit by selling thousands of nonessential items.
So the small businesses’ pain is the big box stores’ gain. And now, Toronto’s business owners are using creativity to get their message out with an installation of ‘out of work’ mannequins holding signs with cheeky messages including 'Hungry for customers', 'Storeless and cold' and 'Spare lunch? Big box is eating mine'.
The campaign is the latest effort from the Broadview Danforth and West Queen West Business Improvement Areas (BIA) in partnership with ad agency Zulu Alpha Kilo who handled all creative. “Businesses have to get creative to survive," said Albert Stortchak, chair of the Broadview Danforth BIA, who has owned Der Dietemann Antiques at 747 Broadview Ave for 31 years. He said the BIA’s latest effort is a 'cheeky, provocative' one that main street retailers hope will get people thinking about the importance of shopping local, especially in the new year.
Using hashtag #ThinkOutsidetheBigBox, the BIA’s are calling for modified restrictions that would create ‘a level playing’ field for all businesses.
“Small businesses have all the same safety protocols in place: sanitising hands, limiting the number of customers, even taking your temperature. These precautions are much harder to manage in a bigger business,” said Zak Mroueh founder and CCO of Zulu Alpha Kilo. “As an independent business ourselves, we wanted to encourage people to shop local and help draw attention to the challenges facing small businesses that are the heart and soul of our neighbourhoods.”