As part of its Canadian Business Resilience Network campaign, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, through the generosity of Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), provided 62 small Canadian businesses with $10,000 grants to help their recovery efforts during these unprecedented times. What follows is the story of Biscuit General Store from Halifax, Nova Scotia, one of the businesses that received a grant.
“When COVID hit, our first concern was for the safety and care of our staff and customers,” explained Wendy Friedman. “We closed the store immediately, even before the mandated closing. We organized meetings with other small business owners and women-owned businesses via Zoom to support each other in these uncharted waters.”
To remain resilient, Biscuit General Store pivoted its business to offer curbside pickup and deliveries along with selling items via social media and private Facetime shopping.
“Even with these efforts, we suffered a 90% decrease in sales during the shutdown,” said Friedman. “We are in dire need of cash flow to meet our obligations, and to give us some ground to build our changing business in a way that is stable and sustainable for the future.”
Biscuit General Store has had to absorb many expenses related to the health and safety in reopening its doors. There has been the purchase of counter shields, personal protective equipment for staff, deep cleaning of the store along with expenses associated with launching a new website.
“We’re feeling hopeful but nervous as we just reopened to customers,” expressed Friedman. “People are coming out, but the volume is not reaching our previous levels of sales, so launching the website fully is key.”
Biscuit General Store plans to use the CBRN grant to offset costs related to its website launch along with social media marketing to drive customers to the new website. Biscuit General Store is also aiming to work with local influencers to drive business to its storefront and make people aware of its private shopping and Facetime shopping options.
“The store also usually gets a good share of our summer revenue from tourists, so we’re refocusing on encouraging locals to explore the city like a tourist,” shared Friedman.
Biscuit General Store has been participating in Reopen City, where local businesses offer special experiences for customers over four weekends in June and July. Biscuit General Store will host a sidewalk takeout BBQ and pop-up shop with local artists hosted in-store to attract customers.
“We’re also currently working with the local business commissions to build a better delivery system for locally-owned businesses, and see our business as a leader for other small businesses in our community,” told Friedman. “I serve as a business mentor for two new small businesses, and am re-joining the board of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission.”
Biscuit General Store has been a community hub for 24 years through offering its support to arts events, LGBTQi+ visibility and inclusivity and movements to make Halifax more environmentally progressive. Biscuit General Store has also won awards for sponsoring interns from marginalized communities, their environmental policies and for their community engagement.
“Our business has always gone through rebirths and transforms with the times, and we embrace that fully,” said Friedman.
To learn more about the CBRN Small Business Relief Fund and see the full list of grant recipients, visit the Small Business Relief Fund page.