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One Red Maple looks to help local retailers

Mark Sherry wants to keep as many shopping dollars in the local community as he can. He believes One Red Maple can do that.

It’s an extension that works with Google Chrome, and while it’s in the beta stage right now, he believes it can help small independent retailers and franchises by steering shopping dollars away from big online retailers like Amazon.

“It’s a way to try to change the game,” Sherry says.

Online retailing is the gorilla in the market. Online sales were growing at an annual rate of about 15 per cent before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

But after small retailers were forced to close their doors at various times in the pandemic, online retail took a giant leap. In 2020, online sales jumped by about 40 per cent, at the expense of small businesses.

“Amazon’s strength is it has huge inventory,” Sherry says. But what One Red Maple does is when someone is shopping online, it will bring up similar or identical products available locally, “redirecting some of that traffic to local retailers.”

The idea was percolating for several months before the pandemic closed in, and Sherry recognized it as a “really big idea.”

The problem was, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to commit to it at the time because of the size of the undertaking.

But as the first wave of shutdowns took place, and “a place like Deegan’s had to close down while they were stuffing people into Walmart,” he decided it was an idea he had to pursue.

“The pandemic has been terribly hard on small business. This is a way to fight back against the centralization of retail. If we can do this, we can drive more people downtown” or to other retailers in the local area.

"IION is a Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) and a member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE); a network of strategic regional and provincial partners that deliver programs and services to help entrepreneurs and established businesses grow and succeed. IION is strategically located in North Bay at Canadore College/Nipissing University and serves the districts of Nipissing, Timiskaming, Parry Sound and Muskoka. IION‘s mission is to be the regional champion for the adoption and acceleration of innovation and technology by increasing the volume and velocity of economic growth through access to technology, alignment of commercialization opportunities, and navigation of available resources."

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