Alpaca Farm's Tours Sell Out Days After Launching New Website
Forget-Me-Not Alpacas is a farm in Beaverton, Ontario where visitors have the option to browse a unique selection of alpaca products or tour the farm to see the animals themselves. Started by a family of three, Geoff and Sandra believe that the strong partnership between them and their daughter Denise was integral to the process of successfully pursuing their dreams to become farmers. Products, which include beautiful yarn, blankets, hats, socks, dryer balls, and more, are made with sustainability in mind, as the family ensures that their farming practices are gentle on both the land and animals. This year, the family is also working on vegetable and pollinator gardens to support their goals of sustainable living and enabling nature.
Needless to say, Alpaca lovers from all walks of life have found themselves drawn to the family’s quaint farm and positive lifestyle. However, in light of the recent pandemic, the family found themselves with a business plan that needed changing.
“When you’re busy trying to run a farm business there isn’t much time left to research eCommerce” said Sandra.
The family knew that they’d have to rethink their business model, which was particularly daunting with the uncertainty of COVID-19. They knew that eCommerce would be necessary, at least for the foreseeable future, but with many programs and offerings out there, selecting one presented a slew of challenges. With that in mind, the family knew that when they discovered ShopHERE, the value of the program spoke for itself.
“After learning that Shopify offered everything my existing site had and more, it was a no brainer to save money by amalgamating to one platform” said Sandra.
A professional eCommerce launch wasn’t something they had planned for so soon, but the assistance they received in the program helped them understand the platform and provided some insight into good business practices too. The family initially began by setting up a scheduling tool for their farm visits, which have fully booked up since! People often prefer to book online, and now their bookings can be prepaid ensuring that the family stays organized prior to all visits.
Since the Bannon’s built their barn, put up their fencing, and brought in their animals, they’ve been committed to welcoming customers with open arms. When asked for advice for how small business owners might deal with the effects of COVID-19, the family said that flexibility and open-mindedness were key to their success.
“Vivian Greene said it best ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.’ I guess we’re all tap dancing through this downpour together!!”
It’s important now more than ever to support small and local businesses, so if you or someone you know is interested in getting started, check out the ShopHERE program for more information. Also, be sure to check out the family’s site here, and embrace sustainability with an alpaca product of your own!
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, Yellow Pages and Lightspeed.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev 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 in Southern Ontario.