It has been a tough year for small businesses in Halifax and all across Nova Scotia. The pandemic hasn’t only forced shops to shut their doors for weeks at a time due to public health restrictions but community halls — where residents often support neighbours and grass-roots businesses — have largely remained off limits.
As such, Matt Symes, CEO of Symplicity Designs started up Nova Scotia’s Community Haul, a unique subscription box aimed to celebrate and promote local businesses that may be struggling amid the pandemic.
“(Symplicity) works with a ton of small businesses across the Maritimes and in all those conversations at the height of the pandemic, they realized we have to put our money where our mouth is,” says Nova Scotia’s Community Haul spokesperson Keely Wallace. “We can’t just say support local, we have to give people a tangible way to support local.”
Launched in September, the idea was not only intended to boost local businesses with lagging sales and help reboot the regional economy, it was also geared to help people feel connected in a time of extreme isolation. As Symes states in a news release, “our product forges connection, creates community and offers you the opportunity to explore Nova Scotia — all from your home.”
With two different subscriptions to choose from, Nova Scotia’s Community Haul allows Haligonians to receive a monthly box of locally-curated items from more than 80 vendors including such high-quality local businesses as Eastwood Pottery, East Coast Lifestyle and Drunken Sailor Donair Spice.
“Sales and people joining the community is always a measure of success but for us, (it’s) the amount of businesses that we’ve been able to help and the amount of businesses that we are going to be able to help at the end of December 2021 and beyond,” says Wallace, adding that she also loves when people discover new local businesses they may never have known about otherwise. “That’s success too, it’s helping people change their buying habits.”
Nova Scotia’s Community Haul isn’t just helping local businesses during the pandemic. A portion of the proceeds from every box sold is donated to the IWK Foundation to support the work of the IWK Health Centre.
Currently. the organization is putting together an Easter Box, specially catered for the upcoming holiday. A one-time offer, the Easter Box will be available for order until March 19 or until supplies run out.
“Easter will be different for a lot of people so instead of maybe going to Easter dinner or whatever tradition you had, if you can’t do that, maybe send people a little box of love through us,” adds Wallace.
Nova Scotia’s Community Haul intends to endure long after pandemic restrictions loosen as well. Not only is the group already compiling Mother’s Day and Father’s Day one-time boxes but their monthly subscription will continue to serve a purpose for the community as long as it is needed.
“We’ll continue to really be champions for local for as long as our supporters and our network are coming along with us,” says Wallace.
“There are more than enough local businesses to support and there are so many ways as we grow and as businesses grow here that we need to continue to support and discover local (so) we don’t want this party to end — it’s like a good kitchen party, it never really ends!”