Things That Are Open: The Wrap Up

November 9, 2020
Things That Are Open: The Wrap Up

<span class="body-text l">In March 2020, our world was rocked by the arrival of a global pandemic. With the need to limit the spread of Covid-19, schools and non-essential services were shuttered as everyone stayed home and waited for more information.</span>

As we watched the world react, our team felt the impact this had on small businesses. We know the small business community is a mighty one, and we saw you tackling these new obstacles with grit and innovation. But we also saw you were hurting. With many of our own projects on pause, we sat around a table wondering what lay ahead for our clients and staff, and we thought, “What if we had a central place so those who need to could communicate with the public about what they’re doing, without it costing them anything?”

“We wanted to provide a central source of information that benefited the whole community...”

We knew marketing budgets were tighter than ever, and we wanted to create awareness for your businesses without creating further strain on your budgets. We wanted to highlight the ways you pushed through this adversity. We wanted to provide a central source of information that benefited the whole community, making it easier for businesses to advertise their adapted circumstances, whether offering takeout service, curbside pickup, online delivery, virtual festivals or at-home fitness.

We wanted to use all our areas of expertise and pull together to make something that would help as many people as possible. And so, almost overnight, our team —Strategy, Branding, Marketing, Design and Development combined —made it happen. Through the collective stress and anxiety, creating a bit of positivity, light and inspiration in a scary world helped our team push through, while keeping us busy and motivated.


On March 26, 2020, Lift Interactive and Jim Pattison Broadcast Group launched Things That Are Open, a platform for businesses to submit their listing and show how they were adapting to this unprecedented crisis.

Pattison pitched in advertising through their news portals and local radio stations. Lift pitched in digital ad spends and a team dedicated to backend development, marketing, content development and customer support. Municipalities and external sponsors pitched in funding for new communities to join the platform.


At its inception, Things That Are Open created an easy, one-stop-shop for people to see if their favourite businesses were open, what kind of services they were currently providing and how they were keeping their customers safe.

Four days later, over 800 local businesses had a listing on Things That Are Open. Within the first week, the site had expanded beyond Edmonton to include 31 communities across BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Across these communities, there are now 15,296 businesses across Western Canada with a listing. Since the launch, the site has reached over 249,560 visitors. It grew from a small thought in a boardroom to a Western Canadian movement.


As the site grew, so did the need for new features to improve the experience and grow the platform. We added the ability for businesses to edit their own listing, which became helpful as Edmonton opened up and businesses could open their doors under limitations and expand their offerings. We added a map feature so people could view individual communities within a city and areas near them. And we added filters so people could search by the type of offering they were looking for, like Takeout or Delivery.

“We wanted to move as quickly as possible, and that meant it likely wasn’t going to be perfect. We were okay with dealing with the challenges as they came up. And we were always working to improve the experience and grow the platform.”
– Tim Sloan, Director of Technology, Lift Interactive

With the change in seasons and the evolution of 2020, our efforts on Things That AreOpen have levelled out, and it’s hard to say where Things That Are Open will go next. While we won’t continue to add new features and develop content, the site will still be maintained and here for you if you need it. We’ve been working with communities and municipalities to take over and keep content relevant for their site. You can contact us if that’s something you’re interested in.

This is not a "goodbye," just a "see ya later!"

Thank you for helping us make Things That are Open the resource it is today. We're stronger and better together.

Thorren Koopmans
Thorren has over a decade of experience managing web and marketing projects. His background in retail, finance and technology—and a long history with computers, web and social media—provide a well-rounded and innovative perspective on strategy development and implementation.
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