A website meant to help local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been able to keep up with demand.
Goodlocal.ca, run by Winnipeg restaurateur and businessman Obby Khan, had to press pause to be reconfigured to deal with an avalanche of traffic.
“There’s been a massive paradigm shift in the way people are thinking about shopping — and especially shopping local — during COVID,” Khan told 680 CJOB.
“The response… you go anywhere, and everyone wants to support locals.”
Khan said he came up with the website earlier in the pandemic because he wanted to support local businesses but wasn’t sure how to do so.
“As a local guy who wanted to support local… I created a platform where everything good and everything local can be on Goodlocal.
“We launched about three weeks ago, and we had 18 orders. Then we got some media attention… and we had 300 orders the following week. Last week we had over 700 orders.
“We did about $120,000 in sales in two weeks, and 100 per cent of that money went local. We didn’t take any commission off that. We’re putting all the money in the hands of businesses.”
Khan said the ordering pause was due to the difficulty of scaling the business so quickly. He expected the site would do 50 to 100 sales, something it has far exceeded. The site will be back up after a quick redesign.
“We’re hiring 10 people today, and we already have a staff of about eight, so that’s almost 20 new jobs created during the pandemic,” he said.
“The response has been amazing so we had to hit pause because we were making mistakes on our end, unfortunately.”
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Khan, who has been using his Exchange District Shawarma Khan restaurant as a drop-off point for vendors on the site, said his goal is to help keep local businesses afloat and give Winnipeggers an opportunity to shop safely at the same time.
“We’re getting hands in the money of local businesses and we want people to stay home and stay safe. The shopping-at-home platform was designed so you could stay home, stay safe and still support local,” he said.
“I think it’s going to change the ecosystem of shopping during the pandemic, but also post-pandemic. I think people will really try to support local.
“If we don’t do it now… there are dozens of shops in the downtown core that are vacant now, and there’ll be even more — and the big box stores aren’t going anywhere. We need to shift the way we’re thinking and support local otherwise these local businesses won’t be here.”
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Khan’s site isn’t the only local online presence aimed at propping up local businesses during this difficult time.
One of the creators of a local restaurant resource, Let’s Order Delivery, told 680 CJOB on Friday that her project is intended to remove the middleman when it comes to delivery, so the businesses themselves can pocket the full price a customer pays without giving a percentage to a third-party takeout business.
Danielle Northam said the site has received an overwhelmingly positive response, not only from local restaurateurs, but from customers as well.
“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from restaurants saying they think this’ll be helpful… They really appreciate the visibility.”
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