“While I’m thrilled the movement is there, it’s competing against a pretty significant crosswind, and that is the business restrictions pushing newer customers into big-box and Amazon,” Mr. Kelly said. “I think coming out of this, the ‘buy local’ initiatives will have stemmed some of the losses, but it will sadly not be enough to help most small retailers survive.”
Not all is grim. One Toronto business, Stainsby Studios, was astonished by the threefold increase in pottery sales after being featured on Not Amazon. Another, Glad Day Bookshop, offering a variety of L.G.B.T.Q. titles, said the initiative had increased holiday sales 30 percent.
Like many other store owners, Mary Oliveira was scared when the country’s first lockdown took effect in March. But her five-year-old Toronto chocolate shop, Mary’s Brigadeiro, was fortunate to have an existing online presence that brought in steady income throughout the pandemic, she said.
In recent weeks, numerous new customers informed Ms. Oliveira that they had found her store through Not Amazon, which she had been added to but had never heard of.
“We noticed more people had the impetus to shop local,” said Ms. Oliveira, 30, who was surprised to find 27 percent of her online shoppers had come through Not Amazon. “With that, we sold out for the entire season a week ago. That’s never happened before.”
In November, she hired four more employees and now is considering opening other locations in Toronto. Ms. Oliveira, a native of Brazil, said the “buy local” initiative had brought a renewed sense of belonging, especially as she saw the numerous Amazon deliveries happening while local businesses struggled.
Ms. Oliveira said dealing with shipping delays as a small-business owner was frustrating while hearing customers say Amazon is much faster.