Shop local is a typical annual Chamber of Commerce campaign, but it has been given heightened importance during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn.
Entrepreneurs in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are fighting for to keep their small businesses from going under, explains Flori Chaykowski, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce serving the two cities.
“The dollars need to stay here and support the local economy, especially with the downturn,” she said.
The number of COVID cases are increasing exponentially. If there is another shutdown, some local businesses won’t reopen, she said.
There is anxiety among business owners. Already, the number of cases are worse than the statistics that closed the province during the first shutdown. That closure of all non-essential businesses early in 2020 was devastating for many shops, and the economy overall, but Chaykowski said she was impressed with how local business people adapted to keep some revenue coming in .
Now, B.C. is coming off its worst-ever weekend since the pandemic began, with 2,364 new cases of COVID-19 and 46 people having died of the disease.
As the provincial government grapples with the rising tide of cases, businesses fear they will be forced to close again – and just before Christmas. Some businesses do up to 40 per cent of their sales during the Christmas season.
“If we go into another lockdown, some will be in real trouble,” said Chaykowski.
Buy Local week is Nov. 30 to Dec. 6 across the province. She asks that Christmas shoppers and others stay in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and not just for retail, but also for services and dining out.
“They all need your support, especially restaurants, because they operate on such low margins,” said Chaykowski.
The non-profit organization Loco B.C. was formed to promote shopping local this holiday season.
It promotes the idea that if BC Consumers shift 10 per cent of spending to local businesses, as opposed to multinationals, it will create more than 14,000 jobs and send $4.5 billion into the BC economy.