The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville has launched Powered by Neighbours, a shop local brand, to support wintertime campaigns that are designed to support local businesses.
“Powered by Neighbours speaks to the sense of community and small-town nature that Stouffvillians enjoy,” said Town Economic Development Officer Dave Tuley. “It is hard to capture Whitchurch-Stouffville in three words, but if COVID has taught us anything, Stouffville is community driven and locally supported.”
The first campaign under the Powered by Neighbours banner was launched November 16, entitled “What’s for Dinner” and carries a hashtag #skiptheapps. Local restaurants are being encouraged to register daily lunch and dinner specials on the town’s L4A.ca website calendar.
“When it is dinner time and you are trying to figure out what to eat and who to support, just go onto the calendar,” Tuley said.
The town launched the L4A.ca website last summer to help local businesses through the pandemic. The What’s for Dinner campaign was implemented by town staff with the assistance of community volunteers, such as Laura Cusack (Hummingbird Hub), Susan Tucker (Stouffville Bulletin) and Taya Dekker. The Stouffville Chamber and Stouffville Review have offered to do anything possible to help with the campaign. Stouffville branding consultants, Trajectory, helped with the creative process in developing a brand.
“It is hoped that this campaign will help people #skiptheapps by taking food out,” Tuley said.
The popular food delivery apps have been heavily utilized and amalgamated into our lives in recent years. Although these apps have been around for quite some time now, they are becoming more popular than ever. As these apps received more traction, they became available in more rural areas. A few years ago, the major apps came to Stouffville and we have been using them ever since. With the pandemic, people have started to use these apps even more. Although they are great when we want to get our restaurant favourites delivered home, they take a huge chunk of our local restaurant’s profits.
Looking at Stouffville specifically, many if not most of our local restaurants are registered for at least one of these apps. In a time where the government is forced to put restrictions on restaurants due to COVID-19, restaurants rely on these services to receive orders. Of course, orders are good for a business. It means they are getting income, but in an industry with slim profit margins, the cost of these delivery services takes a big toll on locally-run restaurants. According to Restaurants Canada, the average profit margin for a food service business is under five per cent, while the leading food ordering apps charge a commission of anywhere between 20-30 per cent for delivery. As a result, we must consider more beneficial ways to support our local restaurants.
“We need to perform a local restaurant rescue,” Town CAO Rob Adams said. “The most beneficial way to support a local restaurant is to call them directly to order and pick up your food at the restaurant. By doing this, the restaurant makes a larger profit margin and you get to give back to your community. Our business community deserves extra attention.”
Additionally, with take-out one can save money by avoiding the app’s delivery fees. Savings aside, restaurant owners and workers are some of the many people that help our community thrive. They provide a taste of culture, hospitality, and personality that adds to our town’s identity.
Overall, when this pandemic is over and we take a look at our town’s main streets, what do you hope to see? Essentially, there are two scenarios. Do you want to see streets filled with restaurants run by community members or streets filled with empty buildings that used to house the coffee shops, restaurants, and bars that the people of Stouffville used to congregate?
“Please keep in mind, as we continue to be amid the COVID pandemic, we need to support local businesses in the best way possible,” Tuley said. “So, next time you are craving a meal from your favourite food-service institution, consider calling them directly and picking up your order.”
Photo: Mayor Iain Lovatt poses next to a Powered by Neighbours billboard in Stouffville. Photo courtesy of Dennis Hristovski.
Story written by Jake MacAndrew