WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOUR?
Sometimes a simple act like reaching out to your neighbours can mark the beginning of a beautiful friendship. And if you’re an entrepreneur working out of the busy L-shaped plaza located in Brighton’s industrial park off Loyalist Drive, it might even signal a whole new way of doing business.
Dubbed Loyalist Village by the business owners who share this thriving commercial complex, shops run the gamut from hot sauce and candy makers, a hair salon/spa, a purveyor of natural skincare products, a dance studio, a martial arts centre, a cafe and vending business, and a plumber to boot! It’s an interesting place, with a number of interesting people at its helm.
“Three are mature women, wonderful local artisans who design, craft and sell Canadian products right here,” says Tammy Latchford of Rocia Naturals, proudly ticking off a number of significant boxes in the business world.
And talk about a collegial workplace! When Dorothy Worobetz of Saucy Dotty’s sought to get to know her fellow entrepreneurs a little better, good things instantly blossomed. The idea of helping each other out just came naturally to the occupants of Loyalist Village.
“It would have happened whether COVID happened or not,” declares Latchford’s boss, Jacqui Maybee, “but COVID really kickstarted it.”
GETTING IN THE SPIRIT
When Maybee offered up some space in her shop last fall, masked entrepreneurs began to get together for regular, socially-distanced meetings.
The community-minded businesswoman had already loaned out the same space to a charity, Stockings for Seniors, so conversations took place in and around a mountain of donated Christmas goodies. Perhaps this festive atmosphere helped inspire the group’s idea for their first major project: a Christmas basket giveaway.
Designed to thank loyal customers and encourage local shopping, the $700-plus basket contained a myriad of valuable items: generous gift certificates for the cafe, karate and dance lessons, a discount on a high quality faucet, multiple hair, nail and skincare products, a range of gourmet sauces, delicious Belgian chocolate plus much more. Every Loyalist Village shop jumped on board with enthusiasm; some even aligned business hours to make shopping more convenient.
IT ALL ADDS UP
“You know that expression, ‘It takes a village…’?” says Latchford. “Well, it works.”
With a background in marketing and experience running a boutique herself, Latchford knows the best business practices sometimes involve simple math. If one store owner tells their own customers about their neighbour’s business, the neighbour’s customer base potentially doubles. And vice versa. Everybody wins, including the customers.
“What did a customer say just the other day?” Latchford chuckles. “This is her one-stop shopping destination.”
As businesses everywhere continue to figure out how best to surf the COVID wave, future projects for the Loyalist Village crew might rest on the back burner for a bit.
Still, the entrepreneurs love to dream big and ideas about possible branding and logos abound. No matter what comes next, everyone acknowledges their teamwork approach has created buzz within the local business community.