Merinnade Market in Ottawa’s Nepean community may be a “mini” grocery store, but it still packs a world of tastes and flavours under one roof.

Veteran entrepreneur and owner Folasade (Shade) Tosan features international gluten-free organic groceries, spices and snacks, especially from Africa and the Caribbean. She has a hot food section stocked with fresh coffee, pre-packed lunches, appetizers and unique “Afrofusion” treats.

The digital strength of her business lies with its Google listing, strong visuals that clearly identify her market niche and a social media presence in the community.

But her store’s opening and the pandemic together highlighted the need to address Shade’s challenges with consistently updating her online presence and having a modern website equipped for e-commerce. It’s all part of a larger strategy to ensure she can maintain the confidence of the specialty wholesalers from Montreal and Toronto on which Merinnade Market relies.

In addition to her $2,500 Digital Main Street (DMS) grant, Shade realized she also needed “a partner” – someone she could turn to for help with those areas of digital transformation that are not her core skill. That partner turned out to be Shade’s DMS Digital Service Squad, run by the Ottawa Coalition of BIAs.

DMS’s personal coaching, easy-to-use webinars and other free educational resources, as well as access to the grant funding, have all helped Shade to invest in a new website and in digital marketing with confidence.

“DMS offers so many training, one-on-one support and online learning resources to help you think outside the box and understand where and how you can seize new opportunities,” Shade said.

Share this story with your network.