988 Concept

Toronto store owner is using the city's never-ending construction to her advantage

There's no question that endless construction has been plaguing the city for months now, and it's undoubtedly affecting small businesses. 

Sophia Noronha is the owner of 988 Concept, a clothing store located at 988 Pape Ave., north of the Danforth. 

Noronha ​​​​​​said there's been construction in front of her store for water main repair since the spring, and it directly blocks her windows, which is how new customers often discover her. 

"Toronto construction has been impacting me big-time," she said. 

But while most small business owners choose to get upset about the construction, Noronha decided to use it to her advantage. 

She usually posts a photo to social media every day, so she started using the construction zone as her backdrop. 

"They have to complete the work right? Might as well put on a show since I have a small following on social media anyway," she said. 

Noronha has been posting fierce photos and videos in front of construction vehicles, and she even has a sign out front that reads "FREE KISS FROM CONSTRUCTION WORKERS WITH EVERY PURCHASE!"

Noronha has also started using the hashtag #dontgetmadgetdressed on all her photos, and she said she's hoping other small businesses in her area will follow her lead and use it too. 

"I want the hashtag to grow and live on social media as a way for everyone to get exposure for their business, stay positive through the tough times and still able to make sales because people support local," she said. 

She also said this new attitude and the steps she's taken to embrace the construction have had quite the positive impact on her business. 

She said she now gets the construction workers in her boutique on their break, they moved a fence to help her get more visibility and she's been getting a lot of new customers from the social media posts.

City councillor Paula Fletcher even loved and shared one of her photos.

Noronha is the Vice Chair of the Pape Village BIA, and she said other small businesses would be smart to join their local BIAs because becoming a member gave her access to information that helped her prepare for the construction. 

"I’m a proud Canadian," she said. "I want to be positive about what we can’t control and help other small business see opportunities like this as a way to get the exposure they need."

Lead photo by

Sophia Noronha


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