MEAFORD, ONT. -- The empty storefronts in downtown Meaford are a testament to how challenging it is for small businesses in small towns to compete with big box stores, franchises and massive online vendors, especially on Cyber Monday.

Nancy Ellis owns Simply Unique, a flower shop in Meaford, and said promoting online is critical to attracting attention.

"Facebook is huge. I post five to six pictures every day," she said. "[The] internet is massive for us these days."

The provincial and federal governments established a small grant called Digital Main Street to help business owners pivot their approach to focus on digital solutions like developing a website and marketing plan.

Today, Ellis said sales are up, expenses are down, and deliveries are flowing.

Susan Bazant has a store filled with antiques and collectibles that she is selling online.

The government grant helped get her website up and running, and now she has new customers from all over the world.

The Czech it Out Antiques owner said more people are turning to the web to shop these days.

"Seventy, 80, 90 per cent of people are shopping online right now, and it's just the way of the world. It seems young people are shopping online, even people my age are shopping online," Bazant said.

The Digital Main Street grant offered up to $2,500 to small businesses struggling to survive throughout the pandemic.