The Power of Instagram for Businesses:  A Guide to Success

The Power of Instagram for Businesses: A Guide to Success

Instagram serves a greater purpose than just being a platform for teenagers to share selfies and food pictures (though, admittedly, those can be enjoyable too). For businesses, Instagram can be a powerful tool for reaching new customers, increasing brand awareness, and driving sales. Instagram can help your business stand out and connect effectively with your target audience by using hashtags, engaging with followers, and creating visually appealing content.

With over two billion monthly active users globally, as of early 2024, businesses can use Instagram to expand their reach, increase brand engagement, showcase products, run giveaways, and attract customers from all around the world. Effectively using this platform has become crucial for maintaining competitiveness and distinguishing from competitors and fostering brand loyalty.

Understanding Your Target Audience on Instagram

The era of relying on guesswork in marketing strategies is long gone. Instead, Instagram allows you to laser-target your ideal customer. With a whopping 78% of marketers using Instagram, the platform is teeming with people specifically interested in discovering new businesses, supporting small business and shopping local. Even better, Instagram’s demographics skew young, with a significant portion of users between 18 and 34 years old. This aligns perfectly with many small businesses, especially those targeting tech-savvy millennials or Gen Z.

Paid Ads Are Not Required

The beauty of Instagram is that organic reach, or the ability to get your content seen by people who don’t already follow you, is still very much alive. While paid advertising can certainly boost your visibility, it’s not a requirement for success. The key to success is to create high-quality, engaging content that resonates with your target audience. Consider showcasing stunning product photos, featuring user-generated content like glowing customer reviews, and providing glimpses from behind-the-scenes. Statistics have proven that posts with multiple images are more popular than a single image post.

Decoding Instagram’s Algorithm

Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes posts that generate engagement — likes, comments, shares, and saves. This means that the more interactions your posts receive, the more likely they are to be shown to a larger audience.

To boost your business’s reach on Instagram, focus on creating content that encourages these types of interactions. Encourage your followers to like, comment on, and share your posts by asking questions, running contests, or hosting giveaways. Engage with your audience by responding to comments and messages and collaborate with influencers or other brands to widen your reach.

By consistently producing high-quality, engaging content, and actively interacting with your audience, you can increase your visibility and grow your business on Instagram. Additionally, using Instagram’s features such as stories, reels, and Live can also help attract more followers and engagement:

  • Stories allow you to share more casual, behind-the-scenes content that can create a more personal connection with your audience. You can also use this space to share content from other creators that aligns with your own or share your own posts to bring additional attention to them.
  • Reels are a great way to showcase your creativity and personality through short, videos.
  • Instagram Live is another powerful tool for engaging with your audience in real-time, allowing you to answer questions, host Q&A sessions, or even collaborate with other influencers or brands.

By diversifying the types of content you share on Instagram, and using all of the platform’s features, you can attract a wider audience and keep them engaged with your brand.

Essential Features for Business Success

Instagram offers a wealth of features specifically designed to empower businesses. Here are a few key ones:

  • Instagram Shop: Turn your profile into a mini online store, allowing customers to browse and purchase products directly within the app.
  • Shoppable Posts: Tag products within your posts so viewers can seamlessly click through to purchase.
  • Insights: Analyze your posts’ performance to see what’s resonating with your audience and tailor your content accordingly.

Enhancing Your Instagram Strategy with Professional Support

Although mastering Instagram requires time and dedication, there are resources to support you in navigating the platform effectively. Consider exploring social media management tools or brushing up on your marketing skills with online courses. Remember, a thriving online presence is an essential part of running a successful business today. If you have any questions about getting started or need assistance with your online marketing strategy, feel free to reach out to us for guidance.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Stop the Spam! Why Unsolicited Messages Hurt Your Brand’s Reputation

Stop the Spam! Why Unsolicited Messages Hurt Your Brand’s Reputation

Have you ever scrolled through your inbox, excited about a potential customer inquiry, only to find a generic message from an unfamiliar company asking for a follow?  We’ve all been there. It’s annoying, feels impersonal, and, frankly, reflects poorly on the sender. However, for many small businesses struggling to gain visibility and engagement, unsolicited messages may appear as a tempting shortcut to boost their follower counts.

Here’s the truth: it’s a recipe for disaster. Let’s explore the reasons why spammy tactics can harm your brand image, lead to legal issues, and discover alternative strategies to cultivate an authentic social media following.

The Impact of Bots: Understanding Their Detrimental Effects

Imagine this: you own a bakery and have spent hours crafting engaging content for your bakery’s Instagram. You post a mouth-watering picture of your latest creation—a decadent chocolate cake. Suddenly, your comments section explodes with generic messages like “OMG, love this cake! Follow for more deliciousness!” When you start seeing dozens of comments like these out of the blue, they are likely from “bots,” which are automated accounts used to inflate follower counts. However, this poses a significant issue: bots lack the ability to become genuine customers and actually detract from authentic interactions. They won’t buy your products, engage with your content, or join valuable conversations.

A recent study found that up to 71% of US and UK consumers will unfollow influencers if they find out they have bought fake followers. Having fake followers can damage your credibility and authenticity as an influencer or brand.

Quality over quantity is key for building your audience. Engage with genuine followers instead of prioritizing high numbers for a loyal and valuable audience in the long term. This will create a dedicated community that will help your brand overall. Keep in mind, authenticity is crucial in marketing.

Laws of the Land: CASL and CAN-SPAM

Canada has strict regulations regarding unsolicited electronic communications, known as CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation), which went into effect July 1, 2014. Essentially, you can’t just blast out emails or messages to anyone with a pulse. Recipients need to explicitly opt-in to receive communications from your business. Violating CASL can result in hefty fines, up to $10M per violation for companies and up to $1M per violation for individuals. It is essential for your business (and wallet!) to ensure that all electronic communications follow the guidelines established by CASL.

In addition to obtaining consent from recipients, businesses must also include a clear and easy way for individuals to unsubscribe from their communications. This ensures recipients have control over the messages they receive and helps businesses maintain compliance with CASL regulations. Regularly staying informed about the latest updates and changes to CASL is crucial to avoiding potential fines and penalties. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) website provides valuable resources and guidelines to help businesses navigate the CASL maze and ensure their electronic communications are in compliance with Canadian law.

The U.S. has similar regulations under the Federal Communications Commission’s CAN-SPAM Act. The CAN-SPAM Act requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue rules with regard to commercial e-mail and some text messages sent to wireless devices such as cell phones—not just email in general. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the CAN-SPAM Act.

You or your business may be subject to fines and penalties totalling up to $51,744 for each email sent if found to be in violation. Moreover, ignoring CAN-SPAM compliance undermines the reputation and image of your brand overall and leaves it unprotected.

Following these guidelines and staying informed about regulations can protect businesses from costly fines and maintain a positive image with customers. It is crucial for organizations to have a clear understanding of the rules and regulations surrounding electronic communications in order to avoid potential legal issues. Additionally, implementing strong internal policies and procedures for email marketing can help businesses ensure compliance with both CASL and CAN-SPAM regulations. Taking proactive steps to stay informed and compliant with these laws will ultimately help your business.

Instagram Guidelines: Adhering to the Platform’s Rules

Similar to CASL, Instagram has clear guidelines on acceptable messaging practices. Remember that frustrating “action blocked” message you may have received after mass-tagging irrelevant accounts? That’s Instagram flexing its muscles. Repeated offenses could lead to account suspension or even termination. So, ditch the automated follow requests and generic DMs.

Instead, focus on creating engaging and personalized content that will resonate with your followers. Building a strong and authentic presence on Instagram takes time and effort, but it will ultimately lead to better results than spamming tactics. Take the time to understand the platform’s rules and regulations, and make sure your messaging aligns with them. For instance, avoiding mass-tagging irrelevant accounts can help you adhere to Instagram’s guidelines and prevent potential penalties. By following these guidelines, you can steer clear of potential penalties and uphold a positive reputation on Instagram.

Newsletters and Eblasts: Building Trust, Not Spam Folders

Newsletters and e-blasts are valuable tools for interacting with customers and promoting your business. But here’s the key: focus on permission-based marketing, which involves obtaining consent from subscribers before sending them marketing communications. This approach ensures that your messages are well-received and compliant with privacy regulations. Encourage visitors to your website to subscribe to your mailing list by offering valuable content, like exclusive discounts or early access to new products. Make sure your sign-up form clearly outlines the types of messages subscribers will receive and how often they will receive them.

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule on when to segment your e-blasts, industry standards suggest sending them in batches based on subscriber behaviour or demographics. This way, your messages stay relevant and personalized, standing out from the clutter in their inbox.

Beyond Spam: Building a Thriving Social Media Presence

So, what steps can you take to build a genuine social media following and foster authentic connections with your audience? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Prioritize creating high-quality content. Share photos, videos, and stories that reflect your brand and resonate with your audience.
  • Be authentic. Let your brand voice shine through!
  • Engage with your followers. Respond to comments and messages, provide answers to inquiries, and organize interactive challenges to boost engagement.
  • Run targeted ads: Paid advertising can be a great way to reach a wider audience while ensuring your message gets in front of the right people.

Over to You!

Building a thriving social media presence takes time and effort. But by prioritizing authentic connections and valuable content over spam tactics, you’ll attract a loyal following of genuine customers. Keep in mind that genuine followers hold more value than a large number of inactive accounts. Avoid spammy messages and concentrate on creating social media experiences that truly resonate with your audience.

What strategies have you found most effective for increasing engagement on social media platforms?

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

So, You Got a Bad Google Review… Now What?

So, You Got a Bad Google Review… Now What?

You pour your heart and soul into your small business. You strive to deliver exceptional service and top-notch products, only to be met with a scathing one-star review on Google. It stings, doesn’t it? But don’t let it get you down; there are ways to handle negative reviews and turn the situation around.

First, take a step back and consider your options for responding. Remember, the way you handle this type of situation can make a significant difference in how your business is perceived by potential customers. Instead of focusing on the negative feedback, view it as a chance to demonstrate your professionalism and dedication to customer satisfaction.

How to Handle Negative Reviews Like a Pro

While negative reviews are inevitable, especially in the age of online transparency, how you manage them can make a world of difference. Here’s a battle plan to navigate this tricky situation:

#1. Take a deep breath. Reacting impulsively will only cloud your judgment. Next, carefully read and analyze the negative review. Is it legitimate or an internet troll? If the person is real and was a customer, try to understand the customer’s perspective and identify any valid points they may have raised. Once you have a clear understanding of the situation, respond promptly and professionally. Acknowledge the customer’s concerns, apologize for any inconvenience caused, and offer a solution or compensation if appropriate.

#2. Keep in mind that your response is not just for the unhappy customer but for potential customers who may be reading as well. Handling the situation with kindness and understanding can transform a negative experience into a positive one, highlighting your commitment to exceptional customer service.

#3. Also, before responding, check if this reviewer has left reviews before. Look for patterns in their other reviews, such as common complaints or recurring themes. Multiple negative reviews on different businesses’ profiles could mean the reviewer is a chronic complainer, rather than reflecting on your service. Consider all factors carefully before giving too much weight to their feedback.

Not All Reviews Are Created Equal

Factors such as the nature of negative reviews and their validity can influence their impact. Google employs specific guidelines to identify and flag reviews that violate its policies. Content that can be reported includes:

  • Off-topic: Review doesn’t pertain to an experience at or with this business
  • Spam: Review is from a bot, a fake account, or contains ads and promotions
  • Conflict of interest: Review is from someone affiliated with the business or a competitor’s business
  • Profanity: Review contains swear words, has sexually explicit language, or details graphic violence or other illegal activity
  • Bullying or Harassment: Review personally attacks a specific individual
  • Discrimination or hate speech: Review has harmful language about an individual or group based on identity
  • Personal Information: Contains personal information such as address or phone number

Source: Google Review Report

If a review fits these categories, the reporting process is straightforward:

#1. Head to your Google Business Profile.

#2. Find the specific review and click the three dots next to “Reply.”

#3. Select “Report Review.”

#4. Choose the reason for reporting and provide a brief explanation (optional).

Remember: Google may not always remove flagged reviews, so before reporting one, consider responding to the review professionally to address the concerns raised.

Addressing Valid Complaints with Care

There may occasionally be situations where the review points out a genuine issue. When the customer’s concerns seem somewhat justified, you’ll want to take a different approach. Here are a few strategies for responding to unhappy (but reasonable) reviews:

#1. Respond directly by acknowledging their frustration, apologizing for the inconvenience, and offering a resolution or compensation if appropriate.

#2. Express empathy by acknowledging the customer’s feelings, showing understanding of their perspective, and reassuring them that their feedback is valued.

#3. Offer solutions by explaining the steps taken to address any mistakes, outlining preventive measures to avoid similar issues in the future, and inviting the customer to reach out for further help.

#4. For complex issues, consider moving the conversation offline by suggesting a phone call or email to discuss the situation further and offer personalized assistance.

Why You Need a Google Business Profile

Having a Google Business Profile is crucial for increasing visibility, accessing analytics, and connecting with customers. Taking control of and managing your profile directly affects your business’s visibility in Google searches, attracting increased traffic and potential customers.

It also allows you to respond to customer reviews and engage with your audience directly. By actively managing your Google Business Profile, you can address any negative feedback promptly and demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction. Additionally, regularly updating your profile with accurate information and engaging content can help improve your search ranking and attract more organic traffic to your website. Taking the time to optimize your Google Business Profile can have a significant impact on your online presence and overall business success.

To optimize your Google Business Profile effectively, update your hours of operation, upload high-quality images showcasing your products or services, and respond promptly and professionally to all customer reviews. Regularly monitoring and updating your Google Business Profile ensures that potential customers have access to current information about your business.

Stay connected with your audience by regularly updating your profile with the latest promotions, upcoming events, and any changes to your business to keep customers informed, engaged, and connected with your brand. This not only helps improve your search engine visibility but also builds trust with your audience.

Remember, your online reputation can greatly influence the success of your business, so investing time and effort into optimizing your Google Business Profile is well worth it in the long run. Don’t underestimate the power of a strong online presence in today’s digital age.

Over to You

Above all, keep in mind that a negative review should not define your business. By responding professionally and using your Google Business Profile effectively, you can showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction.

So, the next time you receive an unjustified negative review, remember there’s no need to panic. Instead, ask yourself: How can I use this experience to improve my customer service and strengthen my online presence?

Accessibility in Website Design: Opening Up Your Website to All Visitors

Accessibility in Website Design: Opening Up Your Website to All Visitors

Imagine scrolling through a website, eager to learn more, only to be met with walls of text in a font so decorative it resembles a secret code. Frustrating, right? Now imagine that same experience with a visual impairment or while using a screen reader. Accessibility isn’t just about ticking boxes; it’s about unlocking your website for everyone, regardless of ability.

Let’s talk about people. Millions of people—15% of the global population—have some form of sensory, cognitive, or physical limitation that could affect their website experience. And guess what? They’re potential customers, loyal fans, and valuable voices waiting to be heard.

It’s time to shift our mindset and prioritize inclusivity in website design. By making our websites accessible to all, we not only expand our reach but also show that we value and respect every individual who visits our site.

Accessible websites are also more likely to rank higher in search engine results, attract a wider audience, and encourage longer user sessions, ultimately boosting the website’s performance and visibility in the competitive online landscape. Ensuring that your website is accessible to all individuals, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, is not only a legal requirement but also a moral imperative.

Understanding and complying with legal standards like The Accessible Canada Act and WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), which are  guidelines that define how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, not only ensure inclusivity but also protect your website from potential legal issues related to accessibility compliance.

So, how do we build bridges, not barriers? Here are some often-overlooked tips:

#1. Font Frenzy

Not all fonts are created equal. While script-like fonts might look fancy, they can be a nightmare for screen readers and people with dyslexia. Instead, opt for clear, sans-serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica. Trust me, your message will shine brighter when everyone can read it.

#2. Colour Contrast

Colour contrast is crucial for ensuring readability for all users. Make sure there is enough contrast between text and background colours to ensure that everyone can easily read the content on your site. Use tools like the WCAG colour contrast checker to ensure that your colour choices are accessible to all. Remember, inclusivity starts with design choices.

#3. Alt Text

Alt text is a simple but often overlooked aspect of web design that can make a huge difference for users with visual impairments. Make sure to include descriptive alt text for all images on your site so that screen readers can accurately describe the content to users who are unable to see the images. By taking these small steps, we can make a big impact on creating a more inclusive online experience for all users.

#4. Speaking Volumes

Text-to-speech tools are fantastic, but not everyone needs them embedded. Most modern browsers have built-in options, so focus on making your content clear, concise, and well-structured for optimal accessibility.

#5. Beyond the Basics

Accessibility isn’t just about technicalities. It’s about creating a welcoming space for everyone. Consider the following:

  • White space is your friend. Don’t cram too much information on a page. Give your visitors breathing room, both literally and figuratively.
  • Think globally and act locally. Remember to think about users who are learning English as a second language. Use clear, concise language with a Grade 4 reading level. You’ll reach a wider audience and foster inclusivity.
  • Professionalism matters. Even if your website is playful, keep a professional tone. This ensures clarity and avoids potentially offensive interpretation.

The Ripple Effect: How Accessibility Benefits Everyone

Remember, accessibility is an ongoing journey, not a one-time fix. You’ll want to regularly test your website with diverse users and assistive technologies. Embrace feedback, iterate, and keep learning.

Continuing to prioritize accessibility will not only help those with disabilities but also improve the overall user experience for all visitors to your website. By creating a more inclusive and user-friendly online space, you are showing a commitment to equity and diversity. Additionally, implementing accessibility features can have positive effects on your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) and overall performance.

The question is, who will you leave behind by not making your website accessible? The answer is simple: everyone. So, let’s build websites that are truly open to all, one inclusive pixel at a time.

Over to you!

Building an accessible website can seem daunting, especially for small businesses. But fear not! MYOB offers the resources you need to help you create a website that’s inclusive and welcoming to all. Are you ready to join the journey?

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Supporting Staff Through the Holidays

Supporting Staff Through the Holidays

The holiday season is filled with joy, celebration, and relaxation. However, it can also be a time of increased stress and pressure for many businesses and their staff. With vacations, family obligations, and year-end deadlines during flu season, the holidays can take a toll on employees.

As a leader or manager, supporting and caring for your staff during this time of year is crucial. Ensuring your team feels supported and valued during the holiday season can significantly boost morale and productivity into the new year and beyond!

Here are some ways you can offer the support your staff will appreciate this time of the year.

#1. Discuss taking time off sooner rather than later.

The holiday season is a busy time for everyone, including your staff, who may have personal commitments that require them to take time off. As a result, it is a good idea to discuss time-off policies and expectations with them in advance of the holiday season. This allows everyone to plan their holidays and manage their workload accordingly. By giving them ample notice, they can make arrangements to ensure their work is taken care of while they are away. Being open and understanding about their time-off needs also helps foster a sense of trust and transparency in the workplace.

It is also important to consider the impact of time-off requests on other team members. It is essential to have clear communication regarding how their absence will affect the team’s deadlines and projects. This can prevent any last-minute stress or confusion and help distribute the workload evenly among the remaining staff members.

It would also be beneficial to set a deadline for when time-off requests must be submitted in advance so that the schedule can be adjusted accordingly. It is important to remember that maintaining a balance between employee needs and business needs is crucial to a successful and harmonious holiday season for everyone.

#2. Provide mental health support.

The holiday season can bring up a whole range of emotions for your staff. While some may be looking forward to spending quality time with their loved ones, others may be dreading uncomfortable family gatherings, or struggling with grief, financial stress, or feelings of loneliness. As a manager, it is crucial to recognize the impact of these emotions on your staff’s mental health and well-being. Encourage open communication and provide access to mental health supports such as counselling or employee assistance programs. Remind your employees that it is okay to take breaks, practice self-care, and seek help when needed.

As a manager, it is also important to lead by example and prioritize self-care during this busy time of year. Encourage your staff to take breaks, use their vacation days (if possible), and disconnect from work during the holidays. Try sharing your own self-care practices with your team and let them know that taking care of themselves emotionally is a significant part of their overall well-being. This could include exercise, mindfulness techniques, or spending time with loved ones. Remember, a healthy and happy team leads to a successful and productive workplace.

#3. Clearly state your expectations.

To ensure a smooth workflow during the holiday season, it is essential to communicate expectations to your staff. Be specific about tasks that need to be completed before, during, and after the holidays. Communicate any changes in deadlines or priorities and delegate tasks accordingly. At the same time, avoid overloading your employees with extra work, and be flexible with your expectations. Remember that your employees are entitled to enjoy their holidays and recharge for the new year.

Setting clear boundaries and expectations early will also help to prevent conflicts or misunderstandings. Be sure to communicate the importance of meeting deadlines and keeping organized during this busy time. Encourage your team to plan ahead and schedule their vacation time beforehand to avoid any last-minute disruptions. Additionally, consider offering incentives or rewards for those who exceed expectations during the holiday season. This can boost morale and motivation for your staff, ensuring a successful end to the year.

#4. Show appreciation to those who work for you.

As a leader, it is important to show appreciation for your staff’s hard work and dedication throughout the year, and the holiday season is the perfect time to do so. If possible, organize a staff holiday party or a small end-of-year celebration to thank them for their efforts. Consider giving out small gifts or bonuses to show your gratitude. Your staff will feel valued and motivated to continue their hard work in the new year. One of our previous blog posts, “Do You Feel Appreciated?” shares ideas for ensuring your people feel valued and appreciated!

#5. Demonstrate respect.

As a business owner, it may be tempting to contact employees if there is a client crisis, but you should do everything you can to resist the temptation. Respect the personal time and privacy of your team members during the holiday season.

Over to You!

The holiday season can be stressful for many, and it’s important to remember that your team members are not immune to this. Taking the time to check in with them can make a big difference in their well-being. Show genuine interest in their lives outside of work and offer support if they are struggling. This demonstrates that you value them as individuals, not just as workers, and can strengthen the bond between you and your team.

A small gesture like offering flexibility in their work schedule or a thoughtful gift can also go a long way in making them feel appreciated and motivated during this busy time of year. After all, a happy and supported team will lead to better productivity and success for your organization.

MYOB Gift Guide 2023

MYOB Gift Guide 2023

December is here and London has everything you need to support local and delight everyone on your gift list. We’re back again this year to share some of our favourite local spots and this year our list is bigger than ever before!

For the One Who is Hard to Buy For

Meet us at The Market at Western Fair District in the heart of Old East Village! They are open on Saturdays & Sundays. When we say this place has everything – we mean it! The vendors here offer locally made clothes, delicious food and treats, artisanal cheese for your holiday gathering, stunning art, books, records, jewellery and even something for your furry family members. https://themarketwfd.com/

Locally Made Marketplace has made it onto our list every year! They are the ultimate local-lover destination. This unique London shop is full of quality merchandise, handmade from local vendors. You can find something for anyone on your list. https://www.locallymademarketplace.ca/

Thoughtfull Gifts is a great choice for that person that is tricky to buy for. Our former team member, Jenny Baxter, curates thought-filled gift baskets on any budget. You can find examples of her brilliant creations on Instagram (@thoughtfull.gifts)

For the Health Enthusiast

Forge Fitness Studio – owned and operated by Personal Trainer, Mandy Rust – offers a semi-private studio in south London for your athletic loved one to train. They offer flexible monthly session packages and high-end equipment! Check them out on Instagram – @forge.fitnessstudio – to find out how you can share the gift of fitness with your loved one!

Kaizen Personal Training embodies continuous small changes resulting in major improvements. Whether your friends and family want to try a drop-in class, or a 10-session package at this gym in Byron, Kaizen has options for you. https://kaizenpersonaltraining.com/

Nuga Best Canada East offers holistic products that help your body heal itself. Their products use non-invasive patented technology to relieve pain in your body. The N5 Massage Bed, T20P Heating Mat or E5 Massager would make a great gift for anyone looking to relieve pain and discomfort. https://nugabestcanada.com/

For the Food Lover

Buzwump Bakery offers sweet treats! Shari graduated from Fanshawe College for Baking and Pastry Arts Management.  No time for Christmas baking? Ask about her plate of delicious cookies and give a gift to yourself! Of course, there are pies, cakes for every occasion and custom orders available to gift your favourite people. You can find Buzwump Bakery every Saturday at Trail’s End. Other days you can call or email: https://buzwumpbakery.ca/

DoughEV is a new donut shop that opened in London this past summer. Support this budding small business by stopping in for a donut and coffee during your holiday shopping or grab a gift certificate for your favourite sweet-toothed friend. Visit them at 621 Dundas Street. https://doughev.com/

Mamasim offers both meal support and catering for holiday gatherings or any other occasion. Check out their Instagram for the most mouth-watering meal options! A Mamasim gift certificate is on some of our loved ones’ lists this year! https://mamasim.ca/

Oh Bombay! is one of our favourite new places to eat. Experience the flavour explosion of authentic Indian cuisine for yourself! Local owner, Aman welcomes you to dine-in for your holiday party, enjoy delicious catering options, or purchase a gift certificate. Located at 631 Commissioners Road East in London. https://www.ohbombay.ca/locations/london/

The Hot Sauce Co. is London’s very own high-quality hot sauce makers. They create small-batch hot sauces made with quality ingredients and bottled in-house. Check out their flavours here – https://thehotsauceco.com/

We also encourage you to support any local restaurant that you love! Celebrate the holidays by planning your gatherings, or pick up a gift certificate for your favourite foodie!

For the Book Lover

Good Apparel Co. has a brand-new line for book lovers! New designs featuring the “Coffee and Cats Book Club”, and sweaters that don “one more chapter” recently launched and are ready for purchase for your book-loving loved one – https://www.goodapparel.ca/

Support your favourite local author! Did you know that you can support your favourite local author – even by shopping at a bigger store like Indigo or Amazon? Pre-ordering their upcoming work, ordering their existing work, or requesting their books at your local library and small bookstores also supports them. London has some wonderful small bookstores like Attic Books or Bread & Roses Books for you to visit and a great deal of talented authors! Emily recently pre-ordered Londoner (and friend) Laura Bontje’s debut children’s book, Was It a Cat I Saw? 

For the Movie Lover

Do you have a film lover in your life? Make a donation in their name to the Forest City Film Festival! They also offer a Film Society membership which offers great deals during the festival itself. https://fcff.ca/

London’s only marquee theatre – Hyland Cinema – recently spoke to CTV about the very real concerns they may have to close. Take your movie-lover for an experience gift. Pick a showtime and take them on a classic movie adventure! Want something to wrap and place under the tree? The Hyland also has a great gift shop and offers gift certificates as well.

Jumbo Video/Microplay is the locally owned epicentre for movie fanatics. You can find movies, board games, video games, and all sorts of cinematic collectibles all under one roof. Grab some fresh-made popcorn and a movie rental while you’re there! Located at 1080 Adelaide St. in London. https://jumbovideomicroplay.com/

For the One Who Could Use a Little Pampering

Is there someone on your list who loves a warm bath? Belle of the Bomb has an array of choices to turn every bath into heavenly relaxation. Shop online, or find these bath bombs and other body products at Duck & Dodo.

One of Karen’s favourite jewelry designers is Lori Schmidke of Klas squared. Her designs are unique, high quality and expertly made. Choose a stunning piece for your loved one or purchase one of their gift certificates to make the women in your life feel powerful and feminine. https://shop.klassquared.com/

Sandy Weatherhead is an RMT in nearby Komoka. She takes a human-centred approach to massage and is ready to relieve your loved one’s achy muscles. Check out her Facebook page for details on how to book.

Written by: Emily Leye & Karen Try