London

Downtown London launches new online "mall" for local businesses

Downtown London has launched an online marketplace for small, local businesses.

You can buy everything from a jar of jam to a piece of artwork

Richmond St. looking north from York St. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

You can now get a jar of jam made by local youth or a piece of artwork by a London artist, all without leaving your home and still supporting downtown merchants. 

As provincial stay-at-home orders come into effect Thursday, Downtown London has launched an online marketplace for small, local businesses in the core. 

The online shopping platform gives Londoners a way to support small downtown businesses while complying with public health measures. 

"We recognize the extremely challenging times that our members are facing," said Barbara Maly, the executive director of Downtown London, the umbrella group for the city's core merchants. 

They've been hit recently with the double impact of fewer office workers downtown, so less foot traffic, as well as an increase in vandalism and theft. 

The online platform is free of charge and allows shoppers to pay online, pick up curbside or get delivery through Canada Post. 

Local app developer RhinoActive built the online marketplace. 

"With the location of our office, and two family restaurants in the core, the growing severity of the pandemic on local business hit extremely close to home," said RhinoActive CEO Dave Basacco. 

"We truly believe the Marketplace can help local businesses, especially during these times of closures and lockdowns, while providing Londoners with a convenient and accessible outlet to support local."

So far, 22 downtown businesses are available on the marketplace, from salons to clothing stores, restaurants and a record shop. 

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