With everyone staying home, and non-essential services closed, there is no denying that businesses in Lethbridge are suffering. There’s also no denying that many in Lethbridge, including alumni owned Airau Marketing, want to do something to support small businesses here at home.
“We’ve been in business for eight years now, and most of that time we’ve primarily served small businesses here in Lethbridge, so we wouldn’t exist without other small businesses,” says Leslie Ohene-Adjei (BFA – New Media ‘16). “It’s an important time for people to remember the impact that small businesses have on community, and the economy that it supports.”
Ohene-Adjei and Airau teammates, Eric Chang (BSc – ‘09) and Kyla King, were brainstorming ways to support a small business client that had to close down and quickly realized they could support the entire community by utilizing skills they already had, creating the website lethbridgelocal.ca.
Lethbridge Local is a campaign to assist small businesses that don’t have web-commerce sites to sell gift cards online. Saving them the set-up cost of building a site and managing a point-of-purchase system, businesses can post gift cards for sale on the site, for free. The first campaign is #BuyOneGiveOne, inviting small business owners to do what they already do – give back to the community.
“Part of what we want to do with this campaign is point out the impact that small businesses have on the Lethbridge community,” continues Ohene-Adjei. “A lot of these businesses donate so much to the community, whether that’s their time, products, gift cards, whatever it may be. They have such a big impact, so we wanted to highlight that.”
Businesses have already begun posting gift cards for sale on the site, including more alumni owned businesses such as the Movie Mill (Leonard Binning – BMgt ‘91), Pops Taphouse/Mojos/Kingsman Ale House (Scott Crighton – BMgt ‘90), and Tanya Plonka Photography (BFA – Multidisciplinary ‘06).
People can go online and purchase the gift cards knowing that every dollar spent is matched and put back into the community. With the #BuyOneGiveOne campaign, local businesses will give back the dollar equivalent sold in goods and services.
Ohene-Adjei points out that Airau is not the only ones trying to do something for the community and hopes everyone will find their own way to give back, whether that’s through Lethbridge Local or not.
“The best way to support Lethbridge Local isn’t necessarily our platform, but more so the idea behind it, which is keeping small businesses in mind right now,” says Ohene-Adjei. “Connect with that small business owner that you know. Make purchases from them. Don’t forget about small businesses during this time. And if part of that means buying a gift card to help support that business on our platform then great, but if this encourages someone to reach out to that small business owner they know, have a chat with them and see how you can provide assistance during this time, then I think that’s important too.”
Lethbridgelocal.ca is ready to welcome businesses to join the efforts, have customers start making purchases, and help work out the kinks for the official launch on Friday, April 17. The platform will continue to grow to meet the needs of small businesses in Lethbridge, with more campaigns in the works and plans to add resources for the community and small business owners.