• Ian Gerald King

Showcasing Our Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Promoting Local Businesses Through Large Scale Events Written by Ian Gerald King

The Lily Cheng Team will work with the Willowdale BIA to create a Willowdale-specific food festival that showcases the small businesses that are the lifeblood of our daily lives: the shops that line our streets which form the fabric of our social experiences. What our local shops and restaurants need is more promotion: the opportunity to expand their reach to additional customers, especially after COVID related setbacks.


As with our Entrepreneurial Network proposal, there are many existing examples in Toronto to draw from and the Taste of the Danforth would be a prime candidate for emulation. In other words, the consolidation of a campaign around a food-oriented festival would be the ideal spearhead for what can eventually become a growth engine for our local businesses. For our purposes, there is no need to copy the Danforth’s venture in its entirety; however, it’s important to recognize the pull of a food-centric festival as the starting point. We have a different demographic composition from the Danforth and our restaurants reflect this difference: positioning our food festival around the competitive advantages of our Ward’s cultural offerings would be our starting point. From there, it really boils down to how we further want to differentiate the festival to make it a more compelling experience. For example, should it have a Night Market positioning? Or, how many additional cultural accoutrements do we want to insert in the initial year beyond the food focus? These questions concerning how to position this festival can lead us to a related goal of this food festival: bringing our local businesses together.


What can emerge from a Willowdale-based food festival is the opportunity to create an informal platform for our local businesses. The Lily Cheng Team is committed to putting community first: this means we would like our local businesses to not only see each other as members of a community, but to work together as one. This food festival is just an illustration of what Lily Cheng’s Connected Community ethos truly means when put into practice – these are not just piecemeal projects because they clearly show how a way of thinking can be operationalized.


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