VANCOUVER -- A Vancouver bakery and eatery that closed its doors early on in the pandemic is now thriving. Business was up 25 per cent last year despite COVID-19.

“I just had this drive that we should be pivoting into more of an online space,” said Janna Bishop, Flourist's co-founder.

Flourist is a popular neighbourhood bakery on Vancouver’s Commercial Street and when it pivoted to online on Shopify, Bishop says sales boomed.

“We just hit it,” she said.

A new annual economic impact report done for Shopify by Deloitte shows that the economic impact of Shopify businesses on the Canadian economy was $18 billion dollars in 2020 and globally it totalled more than $307 billion.

“Canadian businesses that sell online are thriving,” said Ian Black, Shopify Canada's managing director. “Really we’re seeing a huge shift to e-commerce and those Canadian retailers that are online are seeing great success and great growth despite the challenges of the pandemic year.”

Flourist was ready to launch online the day it closed its doors in March last year, and it benefited from the bread-making craze that developed in the following months.

“I think there’s a safety and a comfort component to be able to make such a core part of our diet at home. And people were craving that,” explained Bishop.

It does not hurt that Flourist has access to the best wheat in the world, grown mostly in Saskatchewan where Bishop has family. Canadian Red Spring wheat is their most desired product and is stone-mill ground on the premises.

“It has the highest protein and it creates the best crumb,” Bishop said.

Customers can watch all the action behind glass in a beautifully designed space that someday will once again offer seating for indoor dining.

In the meantime, you can still order online for delivery across North America non-perishable items like flour and dried goods. Baked goods are available for pick-up or next day delivery, locally.

Flourist is just one of many e-commerce success stories to have come out of the pandemic and the company expects online sales to be strong long after the virus is gone.

“These habits now are in place and we think they’ll continue in the years ahead,” said Black.