Small businesses to receive community donations through new site

You can help local businesses like Mabel’s Fables in North Toronto or Chi Junky Yoga Studio in Leslieville survive the current crisis with contributions through a new site promoted by the city.

The two businesses, both temporarily closed during the pandemic, are among the main-street stores registered on distantly.ca so far to let community members make donations to small businesses.

The site was highlighted by Toronto mayor John Tory in a press release April 14.

“Toronto’s main street businesses are critical to the success of our city,” Tory is quoted as saying in the statement. “They are the backbones of our residential neighbourhoods, an important contributor to our quality of life, and are a part of what makes Toronto attractive for businesses to invest in.”

He thanked the founders of the Distantly site “for their civic-minded work to develop technology solutions to support Toronto’s main streets.”

Distantly.ca was founded by former venture capitalist Susan McArthur, with Daniel Spataro and Moe Katib, co-founders of Buildable Technologies. It was developed in partnership with Toronto’s Business Improvement Associations, according to the release.

The platform is intended to support main street businesses impacted by non-essential closures, such as coffee shops, restaurants and hair salons, the city release says.

Local businesses can set up a free account on the site or contact their local BIA for assistance.

The site says all funds will be submitted directly to the businesses within 48 hours of donation. The money is to alleviate expenses, such as rent and payroll, for small local businesses.

“Our main streets and mom and pops have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” Beaches-East York councillor Brad Bradford said in support of the site launch. “The outpouring of support has been heartwarming. Ideas and collaborations like distantly.ca will help us come together while keeping apart.”

He said the initiative builds on already being done by our BIAs.

“I encourage everyone to get involved any way they can: order locally, donate, or share,” Bradford said.