Northumberland Goods and Services takes the county digital
Northumberland County was always in the plans for Olena Hankivsky and Giorgi Kvekveskiri.
But when COVID-19 came up and pushed the couple to move back from Melbourne to Port Hope, a few years earlier than anticipated, Northumberland became the plan.
It was while in two-week quarantine that the pair got the idea to launch Northumberland Goods and Services, a digital general store selling a curated selection of over 1,000 goods and services from local Northumberland County businesses.
“When we were in lockdown and we saw that everybody's choices were reduced to basically Amazon and Walmart, we just thought this is not a world we want to be in,” says Hankivisky. So they started the Northumberland Goods and Services website.
It’s rare in that is it brings both businesses and shoppers together in one place under the shop local mantra. “They'll explore the whole breadth and depth of talent and availability of products across the county,” says Hankivisky adding that the site features everything from cheese to antiques. “They may come across things that they never even knew existed… it’s much easier than going to 50 different websites to get individual sets of products.”
While the emphasis is on making local products digitally available, Hankivisky says they’re actively working to use the platform to tell the stories of local businesses. “We've got a few of the profiles already up on our website.”
On the business end, Hankivisky says they take the time upfront to work with businesses and see if it’s the right fit for them. If it is, Northumberland Goods and Services, uploads their profiles and gets them up and running.
She says the whole aim is making it easier for the businesses and also easier for people to support their community. “We're not price gouging… the prices we have online are not higher than what you will find that people sell for themselves,” she says. “We’re just making it very convenient to come to one place and know that you can get it all, whether it's a birthday gift, whether it's something for your home, whether you want to purchase a new piece of art or furniture even… it'll just come to your door safely.”
It’s a passion project for both Hankivisky and Kvekveskiri, one that’s driven by their love for the area (Hankivisky grew up in Grafton). But it’s not just their love about what is, so much as seeing what it can be.
“I've lived in major cities around the world and sure, you may have stores that have a lot of products and a lot of choices, but the people that can actually produce and make and be creative and be innovative…” she says. “The talent here is extraordinary.”
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.
This case study was completed during a prior expansion of DMS in partnership with the Province of Ontario and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
In June 2020, 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.