Shop owner says supporting local businesses key to economic strength

Apr 6, 2020 | COVID-19, News

Toronto Hemp Company storefront on Yonge Street, south of Bloor Street. The owner of the shop says supporting small business during the pandemic is crucial. (Dominic Cramer)
Sewon Hwang

Dominic Cramer, the president of Toronto Hemp Company (THC), has been trying to adjust to the ever-changing restrictions as non-essential retail businesses have been shut down for more than a week.

“Things have been unprecedentedly difficult and stressful for us and our businesses since the escalation of the COVID-19 situation,” he said. “It has been basically impossible to keep up with the situation with all of its many facets.”

THC remains open because the business is considered an essential workplace. It supports supply chain for other essential services.

Ontario initiated emergency measures to stop the spread of the virus, and only businesses that support the supply chain or other essential services, as well as retailers and wholesalers of certain products such as food, sanitary and disinfecting products, can remain open.

Liquor and beer stores, along with marijuana shops remain open.

THC, like many other businesses still operating in Toronto, implemented measures to keep its doors open as safely as possible.

The measures included reduced store hours and open shopping areas, allowing one customer at a time in the store, and constantly disinfecting areas, Cramer said.

He said as difficult it has been to keep up to date with the constant government announcements and changes. 

“Then there are the financial ramifications and related stresses,” Cramer said.

“Having our locations either closed or operating at minimal capacity, with no money coming in, while the bills pile up and the deadlines such as rent, payroll, tax payments loom larger and closer every minute of every day,” he said.

Cramer said other aspects of the business such as accounting and banking also became difficult as most of the city started working remotely.

He said the best way to now support local businesses from home is to buy from them.

Cramer said he believes it’s important to remember small businesses are crucial to the economy.

“Support local businesses with your purchasing, specifically in-store as well as online,” he said. “Enjoy some great takeout food to support those restaurants that were forced to only do takeout.

“Spread the word. Tell people about your preferred local spots, ” Cramer said. “If you can help a good business get a few new customers that they might not have had otherwise, that’s one heck of a way to support.”