Alberta’s economy was struggling before we had to shut down our economy and quarantine. Unfortunately, we likely struggle more than other provinces, due to the decline in the economy and the extremely low price of oil. We will bounce back, but it will be a challenge but doable.
So how can we help? What can we do?
We can shop local!
As the Alberta government eases some restrictions on business and allows them to open, we have to patronize these stores. Calgary businesses have been innovative and proactive in opening and updating their websites and offering pick-up or free shipping. Still, we know that for storefront businesses, this time has been very tough.
From chain stores to the cost of leasing space to the struggle to manage cash-flow, many small, locally owned businesses struggle to stay afloat, and these are some of the factors that contribute to the high turnover rate of these businesses.
It may not be something that is often thought of, but small businesses are integral to the economies of cities all over the world. They create spaces for the local citizens, carve out niches in the market and cater to the uniqueness of their local market, or offer goods seldom found at a box/chain store.
So why shop local? There are many, but here are five reasons you should buy and support local businesses.
1. Support and Stimulate the Economy
Local businesses spend 25% more of their revenue in the local economy than non-local businesses.
Local businesses are owned by the people who live and work in the economy. This means that the profits from their business goes back into the economy. Not only that, but a study conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that for every $100 spent at local small businesses generated $45 of secondary local spending.
2. Job Creators
Local small businesses employ people from the community and nationally are the largest employer. In Alberta alone, small local businesses generate $21 billion in revenue for the Alberta economy and employ 8,300 Albertans.
There is something called the ‘multiplier effect‘ of local businesses. This effect is essentially a kind of ripple effect; it states that when you shop local, your local spending/money stays in the community and helps to develop that community. As an example: a local cafe buys ingredients from a local grocer or supplier who buys insurance from a local insurance broker, essentially building a symbiotic relationship throughout the local business community.
3. Excellent Customer Service
Small business owners have to take on many roles when they open their business. This means that they are also in the position of customer service. They must take on customer, their complaints, transactions, and more; to them, every customer is essential.
Due to this, the customer service that they provide has to be top-notch. They know that one bad review can hurt them and want to ensure that their customers leave happy and satisfied.
Additionally, these businesses usually hire people who have extensive knowledge or those with more specific product knowledge for better customer service.
4. Offer Goods for the Local Market
Have you ever gone to Walmart and tried to find a specific item, perhaps gluten-free products, but realized that their selection was lacking or didn’t have what you need. Or maybe you’ve ordered a clothing item from a Chinese company only for it to get here and be too small because you don’t fit the average size of that company.
Local businesses cater to their community and the needs of those in the city. That is why there are more gluten-free and vegan stores, bakeries, and more in Calgary because there is a need for it that big chains cannot cater to.
These business owners have a better idea of what is happening in their cities and communities and are better able to cater to the consumer.
5. Influence with Money
Maybe you’ve heard of the phrase ‘vote with your wallet’. By shopping local, that is what you are doing!
Supporting local business shows that their effort and product is appreciated and that what they are doing is vital to the community at large. Shopping/patronizing some business also shows that you care about charities. Many small businesses also use their profits to donate to charity. Some donate 5% of every product purchased to women’s charities and the like.
Supporting local businesses shows that you value what it is they are doing, and you are supporting the employees and the community. This also includes supporting local businesses that are eCommerce businesses.
Many businesses have been online due to the high price of rent in Calgary and only operate in-person when they attend markets. As storefronts begin to open, also remember to patronize those who are online only.
As our province begins to open, we at SheEmpowers want to encourage you to shop at local businesses. Buy that birthday cake from a local bakery, get the meat for your BBQ from the butcher at the farmers market, and buy that unique necklace from a local jewelry business.
We have to do our part to help out our local business people and entrepreneurs!