*For updated and more inclusive lists on local specialty grocery shops, coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, entertainment, health and wellness, home decor, photographers and more, click here.
To my neighbours in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge, I hope this blog post finds you well amidst everything that is happening in our world in April of 2020. There has been an overwhelming amount of news and information blasting from news outlets and government. I imagine that will only grow in the coming weeks and months. Basic everyday routines are thrown out the window with each hour. Knowing where to shop (local where & when possible) in KW during lockdown isn’t something we’ve had to consider before.
I know right now is difficult, and at times unbearable. Domestic violence rates are rising, jobs have been lost, and in loved ones are mourned over Skype or not at all. Physical touch, a basic human need, is restricted to those who cohabit. To solo dwellers without pets, I’m sending you a massive virtual hug.
We will look back on this time and remember how quickly things changed from hearing about “that virus in China” to closing down our own schools, shops, and parks.
Why Shop Local in KW During the CoVid Lockdown?
With all storms etched in memories and history books, there also come silver linings and rainbows pushing through the clouds. It’s heartening to see people come together. From the musical balconies of Italy, to our own neighbourhoods banging pots and pans thanking our frontline workers, to small acts of kindness blooming everywhere, humanity is finding ways to come together. Families are reacquainting themselves, which is an adjustment considering our work-obsessed culture. People are forced to slow down, breathe, and learn patience. The arts are receiving overdue recognition (though still not enough), and hobbies are trending, albeit for once out of necessity.
The intent of this post is to highlight people’s strength and propensity for hope, especially when times are tough, and to provide options and ideas for our community to thrive. We – you, me, and Moe from 6 doors down – are the most central component to a community. In Waterloo Region there is a plethora of talented, resourceful, and dedicated individuals who have built their own businesses here, given back to the community, and kept bland big box stores from swallowing us whole. Their passion and drive fuel our cities and highlight our unique features. I can’t say I’d cry if a Starbucks (or thousand) closed, but I would feel loss if a local gem like The Princess Cinemas were forced to close because of Corona.
This post will grow to include more community initiatives as I learn of them. For now I wish you and your loved ones well, that you stay safe and healthy, and that you take care of yourself and your neighbours, however possible.
My BF is GF
Jannell is a local chef and food blogger known throughout the downtown Kitchener core. Her blog, My BF is GF (My Best Friend is Gluten Free), is filled with inspiration from “Asian classics and Canadian comfort food”. Jannell is no stranger to adaptation and being resourceful. A newcomer to Kitchener from Toronto, she quickly integrated into the Kitchener food scene. Her refreshing lunches were featured at the former J&P Grocery and after it closed she transitioned to hosting unique Monty’s Dinner Party experiences. I have yet to attend a dinner (they’re on my KW Bucket List!), but the lunches at J&P were quite tasty.
What It Is: Gluten Free Meal Delivery
Jannell has pivoted once again, with gluten free meal delivery. Instead of welcoming you to a Monty’s Dinner Party, she is delivering it to your kitchen table (or maybe your couch at this point!). Each week there is a new set menu, with meals, snacks, and even a smoothie to savour.
How It Works:
- Place a single or double portion order
- Deliveries are made on a set date (April 30th is the next one)
Quantum Greens is a local health food catering company created by entrepreneurs Erika Siegner & Bill MacTavish. Working in the tech industry, they noticed a need for healthier catered lunch options. Quantum Green’s delicious specialities include build-your-own salad bars, poke and burrito bowls, yogurt parfait bars, pre-made salads, and fruit and veggie cups.
What It Is: Grocery Baskets
Many people aren’t able to go to the grocery store these days, whether because they’re immuno-compromised, a frontline worker reducing contact outside of work, or any other number of reasons. Quantum Greens has filled the gap between maintaining optimal health and social distancing.
How It Works:
There are 7 different grocery baskets to choose between. The QG Meal Kit for One ($45) is the lowest price and the QG Home Chef Box ($75) is this highest. Visit this link to see a breakdown of each box’s contents. Protein options are available, with your choice of Salmon, Strip Loin, Pork Back Ribs in Sauce, and 5oz Beef Burgers. Anybody else salivating?
- Choose your box
- Deliveries occur on Wednesdays and Fridays (contactless, of course)
- Order by Monday to receive your box on Wednesday
- Order by Wednesday to receive your box on Friday
What It Is: Meal Delivery
There are two options for Mail Delivery: the 3-Day DIY Meal Prep package or the 3-Day Meal Saver package.
The 3-Day DIY Meal Prep ($57.99) includes leafy greens, grains, and a variety of toppings and sauces. The 3-Day Meal Saver ($64.99) is comprised of 3 lunches (salads) and 3 dinners (bowls). Both the Meal Prep and Meal Saver come with 6 protein portions of your choice, including vegan options. For dietary restrictions and allergies, there is a contact email address.
How It Works:
- Decide on the DIY Meal Prep or the Meal Saver
- Make your selections within each combo
- Order ($5 delivery charge included in price)
- Deliveries are ready within 24 hours or less of ordering
Homegrown Local Box
This was the first community delivery collab that I heard about so, naturally, I pounced. I love eating and shopping locally and prefer to support local when possible. This was my chance! I placed an order in their first round and received my care package this past Easter weekend. Suffice to say, my belly is full, my grin is growing, and my hands can’t wait to be washed in some local suds.
What It Is: Surprise Goody Boxes
Homegrown Local Box is an initiative started by two women, Megan and Diane, who work for Shopify in Waterloo. Their 9-to-5 already revolves around small businesses and (lucky for us!) they established yet another way to connect the community. In addition to helping small businesses transition their products online during the current situation, Megan and Diane found a way to support many business owners at once.
The first round of boxes were surprise orders – you had almost no idea what you were purchasing. I don’t know about you, but I love surprises. Not knowing what I was buying didn’t faze me. I knew I would receive savoury goodies while supporting local and the surprise spiced up my day. Pssst – if you’re not fond of surprises, hints are released via Homegrown’s Instagram page.
For a flat fee, a contactless eco-friendly home delivery surprise package was mine. Here are the items in my Homegrown Local Box:
- 1 gigantic Golden Hearth Bakery sourdough loaf
(Sidenote: I’ve been meaning to try their food for the longest time and now I’m wishing I hadn’t waited so long!)
- 4 massive and fluffy fancy Lady Glaze Doughnuts
- 3 Homemade sticky caramel from Hugo & Nate Confections
- 1 immunity boosting Good Vibes Juice Co Sick Day Shot
- 1 mini bean-to-bar Ambrosia Pastry Co. chocolate bar
- 1 package of Heidelberg Farms natural hardwood-smoked pepperettes
- 1 container The Yeti cafe garlic aioli
- 1 handmade small-batch bar of Thompson Soap
- 1 Old Age Cheddar Millbank Cheese
How It Works:
- Select the number of boxes you would like to order ($60 each)
- Place order
Kris Phlippen is, according to his website, a “saucy guy”. Turns out he is also a community connector who is collaborating with his colleagues in Kitchener(-Waterloo) to help keep small businesses afloat during CoVid. Kris owns Phlippens, which is a small-batch sauce company (think meat, veggies, sandwiches, even pizzas!).
I have heard about, but not yet tried, this flippin’ tasty sauce. However, I am happy to hop on the bandwagon of community collaboration and spread these good vibes faster than PB and J.
What It Is: Family Care Box
The Phlippen Family Box is a “choose-your-own” assortment of local treats. They include ingeniously-flavoured ice cream, garlicky spreads, freshly baked breads, healthy Mexican snacks, gourmet donuts, drool-worthy cheese, homemade granola mixes, bbq wood pellets, ready to make cakes, coffee, broths, cookie dough, sauce (of course), and even sanitizer! Talk about a variety of awesome.
How It Works:
- Customize your package (minimum order of $35)
- Online orders placed by Tuesday are delivered on Thursday (the only delivery day)
- Home deliveries happen on Thursdays between 12-7pm
- Kitchener and Waterloo are currently the only cities available for delivery
- (Email email@example.com if you live elsewhere)
- Specify in “Additional Information” where to drop off your goody box if you won’t be home
Civilian Screen Printing + Him and Her Inc
Civilian Screen Printing has been around in KW for at least 15 years. Where did I get that timeline from? As my high school’s athletic rep I helped design and sell our school’s spiritwear. A few years later in university, Civilian Screen Printing helped a small group of nerdy linguists make custom-made t-shirts. (I may have spearheaded this initiative…) But I digress as this is about Civilian Screen Printing, and not yours truly.
In 2007 Civilian Screen Printing was born in the basement of a university student house. In 2008 they moved into DTK (Downtown Kitchener) with a storefront on Queen and King. Their quality craftsmanship and attention to detail is evident in the work they produce – that linguistics shirt has been worn for 10 years and still looks rockin’!
Him & Her Inc. is a multidisciplinary design studio that specializes in creating meaningful brand experiences. Their customers range from local craft brewers Abe Erb to tech companies like Miovision and Shopify. If you’ve heard of the campaign for Waterloo Region as the Creative Capital of Canada, that’s another brainchild of theirs.
What It Is: T-Shirts (2-for-1!)
Creativity and hustle is at the heart of Civilian Printing which is evident by how quickly this community lifeline came together. In order to stave off the full blow of today’s crisis, they initiated a collaboration with local artists and businesses to create custom t-shirts. For many businesses, they can no longer produce or sell their usual items. However, by purchasing these KW-Awesome T-shirts, you have the opportunity to support two of your neighbours in hopes that they will be able to welcome you through their doors when this is all over. Half of the t-shirt price goes directly to businesses like the newly opened Four All Ice Cream and AOK, or to Death Valley’s Little Brother, Apollo Cinema, and so on. Him and Her Inc have also offered their services to small businesses and artists to create designs or help them with existing art.
How It Works:
- Visit the website and select your new tee
- Order and wait for delivery
- All orders over $75 have free shipping
Have Suggestions I Should Include?
If you hear of other opportunities to shop local in KW during the lockdown, I would love to add them to the list. Either add them in the comments below or send me an email.
**For updated and more inclusive lists on local specialty grocery shops, coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, entertainment, health and wellness, home decor, photographers and more, click here.