By Justin Seward
On Dec. 7, ShopYXH.ca was launched to act as a local online one-stop shop for regional shoppers.
In the past few months, Apex Alberta, Community Futures Entre-Corp, Invest Medicine Hat and the Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce worked on a ShopYXH.ca project.
“It’s a marketplace,” said Kelli Ireland, marketing specialist for Invest Medicine Hat.
“When you go there, when you hit shop now, it takes you to a back end where you can shop local businesses-very slick. Of course the partner that created the back end of this account is a national-wide company. But the marketplace that we created is (customized) to Medicine Hat within this larger site. Anybody from Medicine Hat and the southeast Alberta region- when they go to ShopYXH.ca- they only see Medicine Hat businesses that are a part of this.”
Ireland says it’s a great way for the local businesses to promote themselves for free.
“We were only able to do that because we received a $200,000 grant from the Rural Opportunities Fund from Community Futures,” said Ireland.
“So that grant really allowed us to take this project to the next level really quickly and react to COVID. COVID hasn’t been easy on anybody and it especially hasn’t been easy on businesses. Businesses have had to close their doors once and I really hope they don’t have to do that again.”
She wanted to emphasize this not just about the businesses.
“People aren’t comfortable leaving their home and if they don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes, they’re certainly not supporting local or they’re certainly not getting to their favourite stores,” said Ireland.
“We needed to bring that to them. We needed to bring that to those people that were scared to leave their houses.”
ShopYXH.ca not only benefits the local businesses but it keeps our economy strong, she added.
With the Christmas season upon us, ShopYXH.ca could not have been timelier for local online shoppers.
“Christmas is a time-it should be happy, it should be joyous,” said Ireland.
“It’s time with your family and this year of course everybody has been (shaken) up and they’ve had to adapt and make new changes and restrictions. People are working harder than they ever have-small businesses- and we had to get this into place before the holiday season so that people can feel it was a normal year to an extent.”
ShopYXH.ca launched with 36 businesses on the website in four days and after the announcement, that list grew to 57 businesses on board for the marketplace.
Ireland is hoping to hit the 100-business mark by the end of the year.
Shopping categories are broken down by store, collections and product.
Upon checkout, you’re then directed to the business’s store to purchase the product.
It will be up to the business to decide on shipping, curbside pick up or delivery.
“In the future we’re looking at a local delivery service to work directly with us,” said Ireland.
Lisa Kowalchuk, Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, said,” If people are looking across the country for a specific item and there is a business in Medicine Hat that has it- that business in Medicine Hat has their shop shared with the broader local shops community. It allows them to expand their reach beyond our borders as well.”
Kowalchuk says what the chamber has heard from small rural businesses on the initiative are “It’s been very positive because it provides them a new opportunity.”
“Whether they have an ecommerce website or not, they can be a part of this platform. It provides these small businesses an opportunity to showcase even some of their products.”
Shoppers can go to ShopYXH.ca or email firstname.lastname@example.org to start shopping.