Shopping locally, has become a mantra for a lot of communities, more so because of the restrictions on travel during the past year and a half, but also because more people are realizing the importance of local businesses to the local economy.
With the pandemic, a lot of people worked from home, didn’t go out on their usual commutes to cities outside Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and ended up spending a lot of their dollars, locally, said Ineke Boekhorst, executive director of the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association (BIA).
“By staying local, a lot of people have discovered, and re-discovered local businesses this past year. In many ways they are working from home, going out on walks locally, and simply re-inventing their own community,” said Boekhorst. However, she insisted, that through COVID, the economy had greatly suffered from lack of enough spending, and it was important to continue voicing how important supporting local business is.
The BIA’s executive director also said that shopping local has other benefits, such as an opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint.
Support for local shops can also extend outside the community.
“Even when you are buying a gift, maybe buy a gift card to a local shop. This helps the businesses tremendously,” she said.
Wendy Dupley, the economic development director for Maple Ridge emphasized upon the important role of shopping locally on the economy.
“When you spend your dollars, it is really important to think where your money is going. If you make a purchase locally, the dollars will stay in your community but if online, not a single penny will be put back in your community,” she said.
“It is a simple train of thought and just a matter of changing your train of thought.”
For every $100 spent, she said quoting BC Buy Local, a local business re-circulates 4.6 times more revenue into the local economy, than when buying from a multinational corporation.
“It just makes absolute sense to buy local or even to go to a locally-owned restaurant to eat out, instead of a chain restaurant,” Dupley explained, adding that the city had been always in support of buying local, but especially in the last year, during COVID, they ramped-up promotions and marketing campaigns for local businesses.
“Our campaign for shout-outs to local businesses has been very successful. Businesses and residents of Maple Ridge love that campaign,” said Dupley.
Dupley also said that now that the indoor mask mandate was back in place, it was especially important to highlight how important the local businesses are to the community, and to continue shopping locally, while shopping safely.
“Local business owners are very invested in the community. They also shop local and support other businesses. This makes for not just a vibrant economy but for a vibrant community… it makes us all connected,” said Dupley.
Ridge Meadows Chamber of Commerce president Al Hogarth had a similar idea about local spending.
He said, “When you shop local, you are supporting families as well, not just the business. The money that stays in the community, gets re-spent in the community.”
He also said that local businesses constantly hire a lot of local people and youth, which means supporting such businesses in turn generates more local employment.
Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall expressed how lucky Pitt Meadows is to have so many unique services, as well as handcrafted products and agricultural goods, that provide the community with endless opportunities to shop local.
“Our local businesses have weathered an incredible storm this past year and a half. More than ever, I am extremely proud to shop locally in our community and to see our residents do the same. When we support our local businesses, it creates better opportunities and growth for our city as a whole,” he said.
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