Cash incentives offered to Nova Scotia businesses that promote the ‘Gaelic brand’ – Halifax

The next time you order a meal in Nova Scotia, you could get a discount on your bill — if you know some Gaelic.

Under a pilot program, the Nova Scotia government is offering up to $1,000 to small- and mid-sized businesses that promote the Gaelic language and culture, which are deeply ingrained in the province’s history.

Among other things, the Gaelic Business Initiative encourages businesses to hire Gaelic-speaking employees and incorporate the ancient language into their marketing, advertising, events and daily routines.

“Gaels worldwide represent a distinct and significant economic presence,” says the non-profit Scotland-Nova Scotia Business Association, which is administering the program. “Nova Scotia … has a unique opportunity to promote its ‘Gaelic brand.’”

One suggestion for applicants is to provide customers with bilingual menus and offer markdowns for those who attempt to place their order in Gaelic.

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“Businesses can benefit by offering their customers a unique experience,” said program spokesman Nick Nickerson, who helped start the program in January. “That’s going to attract customers and create loyalty.”

The provincial government’s Gaelic Affairs division says that among the one million people who call Nova Scotia home, about 230,000 are descendants of Gaelic settlers who started arriving from the Highlands and islands of Scotland in the 1700s. Most of them settled in the eastern mainland of the province and in Cape Breton.

Several communities in the area have Scottish names, including Arisaig, Eigg Mountain, Bornish and Keppoch. In the early 1900s, as many as 50,000 Nova Scotians spoke Gaelic as their first language.

“About a third of Nova Scotians have Gaelic heritage,” said Nickerson, who added that similar programs have been launched to preserve the Gaelic language in Scotland and Ireland. “And Nova Scotia is the only place outside of Scotland where Gaelic is still spoken on a daily basis.”

Gaelic-related businesses and events contribute $23 million annually to Nova Scotia’s economy, the provincial government says.

In Cape Breton, the Celtic Colours International Festival has become a popular tradition, particularly when it comes to traditional music. English-Gaelic road signs are common in the eastern districts, and Gaelic studies are offered in 15 public schools. As well, the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s, N.S., known as Colaisde

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Grand & Toy launches ‘brand refresh’ as it narrows focus to business customers

Grand & Toy invented next-day delivery, so the story goes.

In 1882, long before online stores and big-box retail, the Canadian office supplies company loaded goods onto a wheelbarrow or horse-drawn wagon and delivered items to business customers within a day.

The company grew steadily for a century, opening dozens of stores and becoming a household name in Canada for office catalogues and back-to-school supplies.

Then, after a period of mounting competition from U.S. retailers like Staples and Walmart that saw the company sold to a U.S. firm, Grand & Toy closed all its retail locations in 2014.

While the company’s legacy as an office supply store in the mall remains in the minds of some consumers, Grand & Toy has spent nearly a decade returning to its 141-year-old roots as a business-to-business supplier of office products and services.

“People grew up with the brand and remember buying school supplies at Grand & Toy,” said Chris Henwood, senior director of marketing and product management.

“But those stores were an insignificant portion of our total revenue. Business-to-business sales have always been a very substantial part of what we do.”

The stores, which once dotted malls across Canada, also weren’t reflective of the company’s expansion into technology, health and safety and office furniture, he said.

“It became increasingly difficult for us to demonstrate all of those capabilities in stores with a small footprint,” Henwood said.

So the retailer shuttered its stores, moved fully online and focused on meeting the needs of businesses.

Grand & Toy now has 30,000 business customers in 20 different industries across the country, ranging from large retailers and financial institutions to the federal government and small businesses.

Yet for consumers who see a Grand & Toy delivery truck or stumble across its website, the shift to serving business customers hasn’t always been clear.

The retailer’s website has added to that confusion, Henwood said.

“We have historically had an ungated website with consumer street pricing on it,” he said. “We may have confused the marketplace a little bit.”

The company’s website will become fully gated in the next month. Only business customers with an account will be able to log into the site to buy goods.

It’s also launching what it calls a “brand refresh” with the slogan Give Work Life to help make Grand & Toy’s raison d’être more clear in the marketplace.

It’s shift precipitated in part

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