Community Canadian website takes on the online giant

4,000 independent businesses in Toronto, Halifax, Calgary and Vancouver

By Leyland Cecco | Published 30/12/2020


In cities and towns around the world, darkened shopfronts and shuttered businesses have become an all-too-familiar symptom of the economic collapse triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

But while small businesses and local retailers struggle with lockdowns and restrictions, e-commerce giants like Amazon have raked in billions in new profits.

That disparity – and the mounting inequity brought into focus by the pandemic – has prompted one Canadian woman to attempt a fightback.



Ali Haberstroh. ‘I just hate how much Jeff Bezos and Amazon are making billions off the backs of working-class people,’ she said. Photograph: Jessamyn Griffin

Ali Haberstroh’s directory lists

More than 350,000 people have visited the site, which not only helps shop owners, but taps into the growing frustration over the reach and influence of online giants.

Since the end of November, coronavirus restrictions in Canada’s largest city have meant that most small retailers can’t allow shoppers inside to browse their stock. Hours before the restrictions came into effect, Haberstroh got her idea to help out as many of her favourite local shops as she could.

“At first it started off as a bit of a joke, with the name, but soon I really wanted to make it like Amazon, having everything in one place,” she said. “I didn’t want people to have an excuse not to shop local.”

80% of Canadians worried about their favourite local store

survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found that more than 80% of Canadians worried that their favourite local store would shut down because of the pandemic.

“The reception from businesses has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “I’ve been getting messages that make me cry every day.”

Haberstroh and friends have spent hours vetting thousands of submissions, and plans to add more cities in the coming days.

“Small businesses have always made Toronto magical. They’re what makes this city what it is. And so I think we owe it to them to keep them alive, emphasizes Haberstroh.”


Submit your favourite small business or your own business while you’re here:





SOURCE: By Leyland Cecco – The Guardian


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Read here the most recent edition of DISCOVER. The magazine changed its format for an online and pocket version.

Leila Monteiro Lins

Leila has over 35 years of experience in both Journalism and marketing. In April 2010, she founded DISCOVER magazine in Canada. Previously printed and distributed twice yearly, the magazine recently changed to its new digital format in October (2020), facilitating online availability in a pocket version.

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