Shop owners ask Vancouverites to consider buying local this holiday season

As supply chain woes continue, small businesses are reaching out to consumers

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By Nicolette Colosimo

A week-long shopping campaign is encouraging Vancouverites to buy local as people worry about empty store shelves before the holidays.

The BC Buy Local campaign kicked off Monday by suggesting that shoppers looking for deals online consider local shop websites.

The COVID-19 pandemic and recent flooding in B.C. have created a supply chain shortage, which is expected to affect local businesses. With holiday shopping season in full swing, many businesses are urging shoppers to buy local.

Investing in the community

Jessica de Haas, a textile and fiber artist at Funk Shui, has been selling handmade felt accessories and clothing for the last 15 years on Granville Island.

De Haas said it’s important to buy locally because consumers put money directly back into their communities.

“There’s a face and a human behind every small business, and those people are in turn going to spend that money in their community as well,” she said. 

Amy Robinson, who oversees BC Buy Local as the executive director for LOCO BC, said the campaign encourages shoppers to consider the impact of their purchases, both socially and environmentally.

“Think about the wider ramifications for your community and the local economy and that you’re helping to keep friends’ and neighbors’ businesses alive,” Robinson said. “You know, you’re helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Sustainability

De Haas said it is typically more environmentally sustainable to support local businesses. 

Sarah Shwieger, owner of Granville Island Broom Company, sells handmade brooms made in the shop. “There is less of a strain on the environment when you’re not shipping everything,” she said.

De Haas said she has noticed more shoppers have been coming in since news of the supply chain shortages.

BC Buy Local is a seven-day campaign that started Monday with recommendations each day on how shoppers can support local business. 

“We are recommending that day three is to give experiences because of all the supply chain issues, climate change (and) impacts of transport,” Robinson said.

Robinson said with the recent flooding and ground transportation issues, some businesses have had to modify how they source goods. Among those, a bakery in North Vancouver, Bad Dog Bread.

“(They were) telling me that they couldn’t get grains from the rest of Canada, so they had to lean on other B.C. suppliers in Agassiz and Armstrong a little bit more heavily,” she said.

Andi Fillion, a café manager on Granville Island, said she prefers to support local artisanal stores and avoids big shops and malls. 

“Buying locally comes at a price, and it’s a lot easier to go to other shops to just pay a cheaper price, but you are in turn getting a cheaper quality product,” Fillion said.

De Haas recognized the price point of locally made goods is generally higher, but hopes people will acknowledge the craftsmanship and value in a product that’s unique and long lasting.

“It might not be a big brand name, but it’s something that will last for a really long time,” she said.

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