Deja Vu Boutik do-it-yourself shop gets a little help with digital strategy
Apparently, the pandemic is a boon for do-it-yourself projects which puts Deja Vu Boutik, Josée Gauthier’s DIY supply shop in a good place.
“People are bored out of their minds, I guess, so they are painting anything and everything,” says Gauthier. Her shop, in Earlton, just north of New Liskeard, specializes in DIY kits and supplies, paints, and virtually anything you’d need for projects around the home. “Looking at my numbers in the last two weeks,” says the Deja Vu Boutik owner, “I’ve been selling six times more paint than I usually do.”
The culture of DIY is strong in the area. “Before people would go to the store and buy a new door, they're going to think, oh how can I paint this? This is how people here think – they do it themselves.”
Deja Vu Boutik turns four this fall and stems from Gauthier’s experience after moving back to Canada from living in Haiti for a number of years. “We didn't have any furniture so people were giving us stuff like a side table or a bed… nothing matched,” says Gauthier. She wanted to paint her furniture but had a hard time finding products and realized there was an opportunity to sell the paint out of her home. That eventually transitioned into a physical shopfront in Earlton.
The business had a website and was present on Facebook but the focus was the physical location. Simply put, she says her online shop lacked lustre. “It was a good little bonus to my in-store sales but I felt like it could be more,” says Gauthier. She says that a lot of the products she sells have online groups for retailers to share knowledge. “I'd see other retailers saying that they're selling tons of this online and I was like, how come I'm not selling tons of anything online?”
Around the time she was thinking about her e-commerce strategy, Gauthier heard about Digital Main Street, a program that combines grants and one-to-one support from the Province of Ontario to help main street businesses strengthen their online capabilities. She’d gone through the entire training before she realized she was eligible for the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant, funding that would allow her to invest in her digital strategy.
“The training was very eye-opening,” she says. “There's a lot of things that I couldn't do myself, but it helped me answer some of my questions about why I’m not getting a ton of traffic on my online shop.”
The goal with the grant was to use the funding to streamline her online shop and physical location so the inventory was connected under one POS system. She finished that in January which inadvertently gave her a few weeks to iron out her e-commerce before the pandemic hit.
It’s great timing, says Gauthier. “I used to get a handful of online orders per week, now I'm getting 30 orders per day online – I'm happy that I had gotten all that done before this happened because I would never have been able to handle the influx of sales.”
Written by Andrew Seale
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, and Yellow Pages.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19.