Shop Talk

SHOP TALK: Ottawa-based SMAKK brings the gift card to the local level

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

At SHOP TALK, we’re always on the lookout for new and interesting businesses. Turns out, we’re not the only ones trying to shine a light on independent shops. Earlier this year, we wrote about Givopoly, and the wide variety of Ottawa businesses it supports.

SMAKK gift cards are cute, redeemable for cool gifts, and support local business.

Recently, we found out about SMAKK, a unique Ottawa-based business that uses one of the most popular aspects of gift-giving — gift cards — to  let shoppers support locally-owned shops (not to mention find cool, personal gifts). SMAKK is the brainchild of long-time friends Bettina Vollmerhausen and Heidi Fuller. (Besides being a cool idea, their website tells of an amazing backstory about how the two long-time friends bumped into each other at the Calgary airport, reunited, and started this business.)

Here’s how it works: First, choose from one of three ‘markets (Ottawa, Toronto, Western Canada). Best to choose the market closest to the recipient (for once, we have our own!). Browse from 40 different merchants, and once you have picked a store you know your aunt/bestie/bridesmaid would love, just pick a dollar amount and a delivery method (cards can be emailed or mailed). You can even include a custom note!

It’s connecting family and friends from Ottawa to St. John’s, Newfoundland!

“Gift giving across the miles had become an impersonal chore for our family, so we had agreed a few years ago to stop. But this year, when my in-laws found out about SMAKK, they were eager to send me an electronic card with a gift certificate for a quality independent local business, without any shipping charges. I enjoyed my birthday lunch at Art is In immensely! I’m hoping that SMAKK expands to St. John’s soon so that I can return the pleasure!”

~ Barb Brook, Ottawa

SMAKK is an easy way to give — and miles beyond the big-box gift card.

This cashmere scarf by Chohbi features a photograph of a carnation — a symbol of love and good luck in India.

It’s also a cool way to explore new businesses. Bettina and Heidi are always adding new small businesses to their line-up — check out Chobhi, an Ottawa-based company that sells beautiful scarves made of cotton, wool, silk, and chiffon. Inspired by nature and photography, they are truly wearable art … and I didn’t know about them until I heard about SMAKK.

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