“Jennifer and I wanted to involve our daughter in helping set up the business. She has just turned 16 and is getting hands-on experience in starting up a business from scratch, learning about cash flow, accounting, logistics, and marketing,” said Barry.
While their daughter has been helping with everything from writing a business plan to making deliveries with her newly obtained driver’s license, Barry still had a few gaps to fill while setting up his business.
Enter next-door neighbours Chris Hales and Karen Parsons. Chris has a background in IT, and helped to get their e-commerce website up and running. Karen, who is a “super-connector”, is very involved in the community and helped spread the word. Their daughters also stepped up, helping with packaging, delivery and coming up with ideas for social media.
“We needed to come up with a nice site quickly and efficiently,” said Chris. “We chose to build our site using Shopify which, like any platform had a bit of a learning curve but has a nice management tool and smooth interface. It integrates well with social media and they have many add-ons, called ‘kits’, that improve the customer experience.”
Partnering with other local businesses in the GTA
“Our business is part of a community – it’s our hope to pair up and work with other local businesses.”
– Barry Hillier
Their Mother’s Day offering included two bags of original blend coffee, plus some organic chocolate from Coco Crafted Organic Chocolates and Ice Cream (cocochocolates.ca), which happens to be located just down the street.
The partnership with Coco Chocolates was the first of what Neighbourhood Coffee is hoping to be many business pairings. Not only are they hoping to sell great coffee, Barry, Jennifer, Karen and Chris are introducing their customers to other small businesses located within neighbourhoods throughout Toronto.
For Father’s Day, they are partnering with Barque Smokehouse (barque.ca) in Roncesvalles Village to offer BBQ rubs and sauce along with their coffee.
Choosing a domain name that represents their business
On choosing a name for the business and website, Barry said:
“The notion of using the word neighbourhood was related to the fact that Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods. I’ve heard some people say that the city is too big and it’s too cold; I didn’t grow up here but I’ve found the opposite to be the case. Toronto is full of enclaves of beautiful neighbourhoods that shift and change over time, each with their own interesting local businesses.”
Using the word “neighbourhood” instead of using “Toronto” or “GTA” means that if they choose to expand in the future, their domain name can scale with their business.
“We wanted to have something that can expand to other cities: ‘neighbourhood’ was built on the notion if we expand, the name will still hold up. We can all be neighbours.”
– Barry Hillier
Notably, their domain uses the Canadian spelling of neighbourhood, but they’ve also registered the American spelling and redirected it to their website.
Tip: If you’re looking at starting your own website, learn some helpful domain registration tips in our free guide.
Sourcing website graphics from local artists
Visiting neighbourhoodcoffee.ca, the quirky, colourful graphics will catch your eye. They were created by local artist Melissa Archer (melissaarcher.ca).