One thing we have heard a lot of this year is the call to action to “shop local” or “support local.” It is a concept that has always been important to local downtown cores and small businesses. But the message has been dramatically amplified (including by the Fernie Chamber) as people increasingly turned to shopping online during the pandemic over shopping at local stores – as it was perceived to be safer. The Fernie Visitor Information Centre is also the local depot for Purolator shipping, and I can attest to the significant uptick in Amazon packages arriving daily in our community.
We all recognize that local businesses have been hit hard this year. Many have admirably been able to pivot their operations to serve their customers more safely with home delivery, click and collect, and curbside pick-up becoming increasingly more common among Fernie businesses. For some businesses, summer was busier than expected and we were able to move through that season safely thanks to the effort that went into setting up each business’ COVID-19 safety plan. Bottom line – you can safely interact with Fernie businesses just as safely as Amazon!
For those of you who have not taken the time to browse through our local stores lately, you may be surprised to see just how much is on offer in our little town. Several businesses have expanded their product lines in 2020 or have pivoted with new offerings. There are even some brand-new stores coming to Fernie in the next few months. I encourage you to check out our local businesses, especially with holiday shopping now top of mind for all of us. I guarantee you will find something amazing for your loved ones.
Still not convinced to shop local this holidays? Non-profit LOCO BC commissioned US research firm Civic Economics to complete a study last year into the impact of consumer spending at locally owned businesses. The study found that for every $100 spent with a BC local business, $63 is re-circulated back into the local BC economy – compared to $14 for multinational companies. This means that local businesses re-circulate 4.6 times more revenue in the local economy. How does that work? This is because local businesses have owners who live and provide jobs in our community. They provide more support for local events, sports teams, and charities. And they are more likely to buy local services and stock local products. I have seen the meme circulating on social media, and I must agree – would Amazon sponsor your kid’s soccer team next season? Probably not!
The same study determined that if the BC population shifted just 10% of their shopping from chains towards local businesses it would create 14,150 jobs and generate an additional $4.3 billion for BC’s economy. Some real food for thought here, and not just during the pandemic. Let’s help our businesses out and source our presents locally. Trust me, Jeff Bezos will be fine!