Jenny MacDonald, owner of The Little Shop Box says she’s trying to make the “shop local” experience easy.

POMQUET: An Antigonish County entrepreneur has a goal to bridge the gap in the shop local movement between local businesses and conscious consumers following the significant impacts the pandemic has had on small, local businesses.

The Little Shop Box is a subscription box company that curates collections of locally-sourced luxuries, specifically from small businesses across the country, and ships them to doorsteps across Canada.

Antigonish native Jenny MacDonald, who lived in Guysborough for the past five years and has now settled in Pomquet, where she bases her business out of her home, suggested The Little Shop Box is aimed to make the “shop local” experience easy for those looking to support local, wherever they are.

“Shopping locally is a growing priority for many,” MacDonald told The Reporter. “We are working to create connections between these conscious consumers and local small businesses through convenience and quality experience.”

Each box collection features five-to-six items and runs the gamut with everything from home décor, fashion accessories, bath, body and beauty care, artwork, eco-friendly items, and more. As a subscriber, members receive four seasonal collections each year, or a customer can buy a single season’s box if they are looking to test the waters, or gift it to a loved one.

“Being a customer of subscription boxes, I think it’s a super fun way to discover new things, and everybody loves to get a gift in the mail,” MacDonald said. “One of the things I’m very proud of and very, very intentional about is this focus on sourcing the items from small businesses, means that every time we put together a box, we’re putting money into the pockets of small businesses in Canada.”

With a business model of buying in bulk, there is an automatic injection of cash for small business, which she advised could be the difference of survival and going out of business throughout the pandemic.

Other than her own personal love of participating in subscription box services, the entrepreneur, who also a marketing coordinator at the Coady International Institute, indicated the motivation behind her business was two-fold.

“I wanted to offer something that people can enjoy, that will brighten their day during this time,” MacDonald said. “And importantly, I wanted to do something to support our small and local businesses during what has been a very trying year for everyone.”

She said they have already received great feedback from their small business partners on how these partnerships have supported them by both creating quick cash flow through her bulk wholesale orders and by introducing new customers to the companies for longer-term benefits.

The company embarked on a soft launch with a collection called the Peek-A-Boo box which debuted on April 1 and was sold out by May 6.

“That was absolutely incredible; I definitely did a happy dance,” MacDonald said. “That was the first box, we hadn’t opened up the subscription model yet, and that was to make sure we were getting it right before going big.”

After closing on their first quarter in sales, they have already sold $12,000 in subscriptions, something the owner said she’s incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported her new venture so far.

“It’s so rewarding to receive feedback from businesses when they see an increase in their sales and from our customers when they open their collection of goodies,” MacDonald said of the wonderful community it has created. “It’s really a win-win.”

The purchase of a single box supports at least six small businesses, while one annual subscription would benefit at least 24 businesses, however the business’ commitment to supporting local does not stop there.

As a social entreprise, The Little Shop Box has committed to donate 5 per cent of profits to organizations working on important community issues such as poverty reduction, affordable housing, food scarcity, anti-violence, and human rights.

Even though it’s only undergone a soft launch, as the Fall Box is scheduled to be released in October 2021, the brand new company is already starting to gain recognition.

As voting for the 3rd Annual Canadian Subscription Box Awards hosted by A Year of Boxes ends on July 30, The Little Shop Box is nominated in the Best Box that Gives Back category.

“I’m getting over myself just talking about it, because another piece of the business is we’ve dedicated 5 per cent of profits to be donated back into communities,” MacDonald said. “As a small business, and as a brand new business that 5 per cent isn’t a lot, yet. But our hope is to grow that to a point where that 5 per cent is really making a significant financial contribution.”

The Little Shop Box has already made their first donation and it was to residential school survivors, as it just couldn’t wait until they had secure profitability.

For more information on The Little Shop Box, you can visit their web site: https://www.thelittleshopbox.com/.