It’s an exciting time to be a business owner in Winnipeg, Manitoba (affectionately referred to as “The Peg” by locals). According to recent Square data, Food and Beverage and Beauty and Personal Care businesses in Winnipeg showed significant growth on the platform throughout 2022, and are continuing to accelerate that growth into the first three months of 2023.
“Despite uncertain economic times, many Winnipeg businesses are showing a lot of grit, creativity and success so far in 2023,” says Karisa Marra, Head of Sales at Square. “Another important ingredient for success is the fact that the local community likes to support Winnipeg businesses and the data shows that support helped many local businesses accelerate their growth in the first three months of 2023,” says Marra.
In addition to supporting each other, many entrepreneurs in Winnipeg are growing their businesses while looking out for the environment, by focusing on sustainability as a core value. Here we speak to Square sellers Amanda Kinden of Oh Doughnuts and Cait Bousfield of Good Fortune Barber Shop about the supportive nature of Winnipeg’s small business community, running a sustainable business, using Square’s ecosystem of tools and what’s next as they look towards the future.
On Winnipeg’s close-knit small business community
Amanda: In this city, and specifically at our business, we are big on supporting local, and that doesn’t just mean other businesses. At Oh Doughnuts we source as many local ingredients as possible. Our organic flour comes from Prairie Flour Mills, our organic eggs come from Nature’s Farm, and our butter comes from Notre Dame Creamery. In Winnipeg, we really look out for our own, and it makes for a really supportive small business community.
Cait: We started this business during the pandemic, and everyone was dealing with their businesses being closed or reduced capacity, so it was a unique time to build connections with people in the small business community. I’ve found that in Winnipeg you don’t have competition within industries like you might in other places. With hair salons and barber shops, you might not expect people to lend a hand to their competition in that industry, but it’s not like that here. Any time I’ve ever reached out to another barber shop or a salon for help with something, people have been so willing to help us, and are so positive and encouraging.
On running a sustainable business
Amanda: My educational background is in environmental studies, so sustainability is something that I’ve been focused on for a long time. I think that, as humans, we can have the things that we want without being selfish and terrible. And a big part of that is not degrading the environment with everything that we do. For us, sustainability goes further than just the ingredients that we use. Our doughnut boxes and coffee cups are purchased locally and designed to be completely compostable or recyclable. Plastic and single serve items are non-existent in our shop, with compostable straws available upon request. Cream and sugar are available in multi-use quantities. When it comes to other low-impact practices, we count on Green Action Centre’s social enterprise Compost Winnipeg to pick up our organic food waste.
Cait: When we were getting started with Good Fortune it was really important to my co-owner and me that we found a way of only opening a business that also was genuine to our ethics outside of work. When we thought about it, we spend way more time at work than at home, and it just seemed like to both of us that the effort that we put in at our house, like reusing things or recycling properly, is actually such a small amount of our daily impact. So, we run a sustainable business. I’d say we are 95% waste-free. All hair clippings are recycled, with the help of a fantastic organization called Green Circle Salons, and anything that we use in the shop that can’t be recycled in Manitoba can be reused. So we’re not really throwing anything in the trash besides food waste or anything that gets brought into the shop by any of the barbers. Our customers really appreciate our approach to sustainability, we still get people coming in daily because they heard that it’s important to us, and they want to support a business that’s in line with their own values.
Square Register: Payments and point of sale, streamlined.
The first fully integrated POS terminal for any kind of business.
On using Square
Amanda: We are processing all of our transactions with Square now, and I have zero regrets — I love the Square Register and the Square Stand. Having so much information at my fingertips is incredibly handy. I can wonder: “What did we do last year for National Doughnut Day?” and the information is right there, so we can see when we sold out and how to make changes so we can sell more this year. I can quickly pull up repeat customers and make adjustments on the fly — say, if there’s a big snowstorm, or a huge order comes in. Square’s tools help make it really easy for me to be reactive in my business on a daily basis.
Cait: Square makes it a breeze for customers to book appointments. I’ve worked at other places that use different systems, and we always had people calling or messaging us confused, or they just didn’t like the amount of information that they had to provide, whereas with Square it’s very simple. I love that when people Google: “inclusive barber shop Winnipeg,” the option to book is right there. Not only does Square make things easier for our clientele, the staff requires little to no training when they are introduced to the tools we use, they are so intuitive and user-friendly.
On the future of Oh Doughnuts and Good Fortune
Amanda: We are currently expanding our first location, and the long-term plan is to have a commissary kitchen and then other satellite locations in other neighbourhoods. So, I imagine the Square tools that I need will change (I’m really interested in the Kitchen Display System), and to make it all happen I’m currently considering a Square Loan, which I’m qualified for. Unexpected costs always turn up during times of growth, and it does comfort me and make me more confident in my future plans to have it in the back of my mind that I’d have additional funds available if I needed them.
Cait: It’s easy to dream about another location and what that would look like. We’ve had to reel ourselves in a few times because we’ve wanted to jump on expanding right away, but I’ve seen other businesses do it and it works, and some people do it and it’s too soon. To us, it’s really important to not dilute our brand by expanding too quickly. This is our flagship, this is our first space, and it means a lot to us. So, for now we are focused on doing great work and feeding the creativity of the staff while keeping the shop a collaborative environment and trying new things— one of our teammates discovered a course about tooth gems that she was interested in, so she signed up and now we offer tooth gems at the shop. So, I guess in a sense you could say that Good Fortune’s future is looking shiny and bright!