By Kassia Skorzewska
Since the events began unfolding in Ukraine, Kitchissippi’s World of Maps has seen a demand for Ukrainian flags and maps.
“We’re accustomed to a sudden interest in both maps and flags when there’s a humanitarian crisis, a war, a famine, or an earthquake. That causes an uptick in sales and interest in the country that’s affected,” said Brad Green, one of the owners of World of Maps.
“At the very beginning, when this happened, we quickly ran out of flags and made up for that shortfall by printing the flag on a plastic material,” he added.
The plastic material the flags have been printed on is the same material the company uses for their maps.
In February and March, World of Maps printed 155 Ukrainian flags, which is the highest number of a single country’s flag they’ve ever sold, excluding Canada flags on Canada Day or flags for sporting events.
“The number of flags sold in the past two months has far exceeded the normal amount by 10 times as many,” said Green.
“They’re potent symbols of the country itself. Just having a Ukraine flag—that says something,” he added.
Green and his wife, Petra Thoms, the other owner of World of Maps, have also donated to the Red Cross, which was actually suggested to them by their customers.
“We immediately put a donation thing at the front cash, collected a pile of money, and a few days ago, we went online and contributed $2,500 to the Red Cross,” said Green.
Green and Thoms have also travelled around Europe and Asia, according to the World of Maps website. While they haven’t been to Ukraine, they have travelled across Russia.
“We travelled on the Trans-Siberian Railway. We started in Europe, started right in the Netherlands, at the North Sea, and we travelled right across Russia to China,” said Green.
“The end of the trip was arriving in Ottawa, and we decided to start our business,” he added.
Like many businesses, World of Maps was affected when COVID-19 hit in March 2020, but they weren’t affected for long. They laid off their employees for a brief period of time until they were able to hire them back when restrictions became less strict.
“Everyone was back to work and it was online orders and curbside pickup and shipping out,” said Green.
They did end up having to return most of their travel books for credit so they could buy other products.
“We were able to increase sales of other books—books that people could read at home, fiction and nonfiction, books about nature, and exploration, and all kinds of other topics,” said Green.
“We’ve become an independent bookstore with a strong travel component. The business name is World of Maps, but when you walk in the business, you see the bookshelves are filled with books and tables are filled with books and also puzzles,” he added.
World of Maps also heavily relied on their e-commerce website through COVID-19 so they could fulfill people’s orders too.
With COVID-19 restrictions lifting more now, World of Maps is emerging strong in the economy.
On March 24, Green noticed that the store earned more money in the sale of flags than they did on books and maps combined.
“We’ve emerged from COVID stronger than ever. We just hired a new girl, she’s a university student, so we’ve got more staff. Our sales for the month of March are just as strong as March 2018, and that’s very encouraging,” said Green.
To learn more, visit worldofmaps.com