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IN Community: Toronto’s Gay Village Needs You To Think Outside The Big Box This Holiday Season

If you live in Toronto, shop local and support The Village this holiday season…
 
By Jumol Royes
 
Planning on getting any last minute gifts for friends and family just in time for the holidays? The Village is hoping that you’ll shop local and support queer-friendly businesses on and around Church Street.
 
Lockdown measures imposed to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community have disproportionately affected small businesses. In an effort to try and stay afloat during what is traditionally the busiest shopping season of the year, members of the Church Wellesley Village BIA (Business Improvement Area) recently participated in a campaign called #ThinkOutsideTheBigBox encouraging people to support small businesses and shop local.
 
Whether you’re shopping from an online store, ordering takeout and delivery or purchasing gift cards, any small gesture of support can go a long way towards easing some of the pain The Village is currently experiencing.
 
We connected with Caitlynn Fairbarns, marketing coordinator for the Church Wellesley Village BIA, to find out how small business owners are coping and to learn about the vision for The Village post-pandemic.
 
What are you hearing from business owners on Church Street about how the lockdown has impacted them, especially during the holiday shopping season?
We usually see an increase of people in The Village during the holiday season. Each year, our bars and restaurants hold events that are safe spaces for LGBTQ people to celebrate the holidays. This increased foot traffic in The Village is something that helps all of our businesses and is definitely missed by our members. Without holiday celebrations and seasonal shoppers on our streets, some of our members have chosen to close for the winter and reopen in the spring. Although many of our businesses are moving online to adapt to the challenging times, this lockdown has had detrimental effects to our businesses.
 
Tell us more about the #ThinkOutsideTheBigBox campaign.
#ThinkOutsideTheBigBox was a campaign developed by TABIA (Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas) and several other BIAs in Toronto. This action was created to direct attention to the unfairness in the lockdown guidelines. While big-box chains are permitted to stay open and sell non-essential items, our small independent businesses are struggling. Changes need to happen in order for small businesses to survive this pandemic. We need appointment-based shopping for retailers and an end to commercial evictions.
 
What’s your vision for The Village after the pandemic passes?
When the COVID-19 pandemic has passed and we can safely gather on Church Street, we want to have more frequent events take place in The Village. We look forward to bringing back a music animation series, the CafeTO program with street patios, and of course, hopefully gathering for Halloween on Church. These events are opportunities for us to celebrate the community of The Village and invite people to the area who may be visiting for the first time.
 
Click here to see a map of what’s currently open in The Village!
 

 
JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-area storyteller, communications strategist and glass-half-full kinda guy. He writes about compassion, community, identity and belonging. His guilty please is watching the Real Housewives. Follow him on Twitter @Jumol and on Instagram @jumolroyes
 

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