Not Amazon: Online giant's Canadian website
Ali Haberstroh list almost 4000 companies in Toronto, Halifax, Calgary and Vancouver. The directory is independent.
Darkened shop fronts and shuttered firms in towns and cities around the world have become a too common symptom of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic of the coronavirus.
But even small companies and local retailers battle lock-ups and limitations, e-commerce giants like Amazon have made trillions of new revenues.
The inequality – and the pandemic's growing inequity – led one Canadian woman to try and battle.
"I just haten how many billions from working-class people are gained from Jeff Bezos and Amazon," Ali Haberstroh said. "It appears to me that they put money over people's well-being."
Haberstroh transformed its wrath into Not Amazon, a new directory of over 4,000 retailers in Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver and Calgary, for small, Canadian companies.
More than 350,000 visitors to the site helps the shop owners, but also uses the increasing anger about the scope and effect of giants online.
Since the end of November, the restrictions on coronaviruses in the largest city in Canada have made it impossible for most small distributors to access their inventory. Hours before the constraints came into force, Haberstroh had the idea to assist as many of her favorite stores as possible.
The Social Media Manager started to compose a list of each independent company she could imagine sharing the resource with friends frenetically. Haberstroh has posted the tablet online since purchasing the Not-Amazon.ca domain for $C2.99.
"It began as a joke at first with the name, but soon I wanted to make it really like Amazon and to have it all at one place." "I didn't want people not to shop locally for an excuse."
With shops considered non-essential" in Toronto and closed to the public, many have fears that firms such as Amazon would be disastrous for small businesses with their swift delivery and dizzying inventory catalogues.
A survey from the Canadian Independent Business Federation showed that more than 80 per cent of Canadians were concerned about the pandemic closing down their favorite local shop.
"We would surely be a big success – and I'm sure the vast majority of retailers are on the same boat as we are. In our busy month of the year it sucks to close," says Aaron Doucet, co-owner of Philistine Clothing Shop, in Toronto. "We do what we can however."
But the store has seen a rise in traffic and sales since Philistine was listed in the Not Amazon directory. "Right now behind small companies, people are actually rallying," he said. "It's so awesome."
Haberstroh acknowledges that Amazon's business model has certain advantages.
"For many including physically disabled people, Amazon is a dream – you can get it fast and inexpensive," she says. "We have a great deal to do in Amazon's business.
However, Haberstroh thinks that the highway provides more than enough for most shoppers and transactions.
Haberstroh also wanted Black and Indigenous companies in the city to be showcased. "Toronto, the world's most diverse city, is important to us, I think," she said.
Owners of a home and cleaning supplies store in Toronto, Green Container, told Haberstroh that the number of online sales has risen by more than 500% since it was listed.
"It was absolutely amazing to be received from businesses," she said. "I got messages every day making me cry."
Last Friday the site crashed by a rise in traffic, which prompted the host to congratulate Haberstroh – and add bandwidth to it.
Haberstroh and friends spent hours reviewing thousands of applications and preparing to add towns in the next few days.
"Minimum of 1 000 submissions still remain to be looked at I believe," she said.
"Toronto has always been made magical by small businesses. This city is what makes it possible. And thus I believe we owe it to them to keep them alive."