Yves Bédard has been fascinated with computers since his childhood in Alexandria, back when models like the VIC-20 and Commodore 64 were the latest models.  Now, he sells and services the current models of computers at his shop, Bedtek Computers, located at the corner of High and Hamil Streets in Vankleek Hill.

Bédard is using a Digital Main Street grant to implement something very appropriate for a computer business—a website.  Grant recipients are required to hire another local business to assist with implementing their objectives, so Bédard hired The Review to manage social media for Bedtek Computers.

“The goal is to have an online shop and maintain it,” said Bédard.

He added that his business has not previously had a proper website but that it is something he wants to have in order to better serve customers in the community online.

The Digital Main Street grant program is an initiative of the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA). In late 2019, the Vankleek Hill Business and Merchant Association qualified for funds to hire a coordinator to assist local businesses,  each of which could apply to the Digital Main Street program for up to $2,500 for digital or online initiatives to support their business. That phase has concluded and the local merchant association has applied for a second round of funding. For this round, some of the geographical restrictions (limiting applications to the downtown, or Main Street area) may be more flexible. Part of the funding requirements included having business owners take eight hours of online training related to digital marketing and doing business online; this time around, that training will be a 2.5-hour session and will be strongly correlated to COVID-19 issues related to business survival.

Bédard explained that small businesses like his have fewer challenges with delays in shipping than large, big-box stores do and that competition and offering a different selection of products is necessary for local businesses to stay strong.  As an example, he explained that while his shop sells computers and cables, customers have to go to other local stores to purchase printer ink cartridges.

Receiving a grant to develop a website and online shopping opportunities was timely for Bédard because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Bedtek Computers was considered an essential business and remained open throughout the height of emergency restrictions, but many more local residents were staying home and increasingly limited their purchases to online during those difficult weeks in the spring.

“We’re really adapting because of this,” said Bédard.

Fortunately for Bédard, he did not have to lay off any employees due to the pandemic.  He is the only person who works at his shop.

Bédard noted that Vankleek Hill businesses have had two significant challenges in the past two years – the first business challenge came about due to the lengthy reconstruction project on High Street from 2018 to 2019, which affected accessibility to his business and now: the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The new website, and improved online elements for Bedtek Computers will be active soon.  The shop is located at 27 High Street in Vankleek Hill and you can call Bédard at 613-678-5100, or by email at [email protected] .