BC Buy Local Week ran from November 30th until December 6th in 2020. During that time Vancouver residents are reminded of the value of buying local.
It’s important to buy from small, independent and local businesses throughout the year, but now more than ever! Giant online retailers are doing well in today’s world of COVID-19. Small local businesses are not. They need our support!
In this article we briefly remind everyone about the importance of buying local and then give suggestions on where and how you can do that this holiday season.
Support Local When You Can!
Did you know that for every $100 you spend with a locally-owned independent retailer that an average of $63 stays in the local economy compared to about just $14 with chains and major multinational companies? (Source: LocoBC 2019 Report on the Economic Impact of Local Business.)
Were you aware that between an estimated 10% and 15% of businesses with paid employees in this province could disappear by the end of 2021 (Source: Business Council of BC)? Or that several thousand Lower Mainland businesses have already had to close this year because of COVID-19 and its consequent economic hardships?
How can you help? By buying local and shopping locally. By investing your savings with credit unions, supporting local businesses with your purchasing dollars, and getting takeout from independent businesses (and picking it up yourself when you can to help them with their margins).
Spending dollars at local and independently-owned businesses keeps dollars in the local community, keeps local people employed, contributes to local tax revenues, and helps keep communities healthy.
To buy gift cards from local businesses near where you live check out the website supportlocalbc.com.
BC Buy Local Week’s Seven Ways for Seven Days
BC Buy Local Week lists seven ways to support local businesses on its website. The seven things you can do to help include the following:
- Buy Local Online (instead of doing all your online shopping with giant corporations like Amazon or major big box stores)
- Shop in Store (because it’s fun, you can try things on, and doing so saves on unnecessary shipping and packaging)
- Promote and Share (by telling your friends about your support of buying local and using the hashtag #BCBuyLocal in your social media posts)
- Support your Community (by shopping at bricks and mortar stores near your home)
- Put Local on your Table (by using locally-grown ingredients in your cooking and treating yourself to meals from locally-owned restaurants)
- Buy Local Made (by buying products that are made in the Lower Mainland or BC, or at the very least somewhere in Canada)
- Buy Local Gift Cards (instead of buying gift cards from big box stores and multinational corporations, buy them from your local coffee shop, restaurant or small independently-owned retail store)
To learn more about the above, see the BC Buy Local Week website.
Where and How to Buy Local
People are shopping online more than ever in 2021 because of COVID-19, which makes sense. When you can though, try to shop in person at local retailers, but of course be sure to do so safely (i.e., with a mask, while physically distancing and not if you aren’t feeling well). Shopping in person at small retailers is the best way to support local businesses.
If and when you do shop online, try to buy from small independent businesses. Don’t give all your shopping dollars to multinational corporations and online big box stores. Giant online businesses don’t employ people in your community, and companies like Amazon are thriving without your help!
Below are some ideas on where you can shop and support local businesses this holiday season.
Shop at Farmers Markets
Farmers Markets are where you can buy locally-grown produce and handmade artisan products. In winter there are weekend markets at Hasting Park at the PNE and Riley Park by Nat Bailey Stadium. There is also a weekly market this time of year in Port Moody, and flea markets in Abbotsford and Cloverdale (although these last two events are on hold temporarily as of late November).
Shopping at the above markets is a great way to find awesome things and support local farmers, artisans and entrepreneurs.
To learn more, click any of the above venue links or see our article about Lower Mainland Winter Markets.
Buy from Artists, Artisans and Independent Businesses
There are so many art studios and shops selling artisan products in Vancouver. There are also lots of small and independently-owned specialty shops that sell all kinds of cool and wonderful things.
One of the best places in all of Canada to find unique shops, one-of-a-kind boutiques, artisan products and art studios is at Granville Island. The Granville Island Public Market is full of great places to find tasty treats. Nearby, in places like the Net Loft and surrounding streets, there are numerous locally-owned shops selling amazing things.
For more details see our article about Shopping Opportunities at Granville Island.
Want to buy beautiful and stylish clothing featuring the art of a local Indigenous artist? And want to do your purchasing all online from the comfort and safety of your home? Then check out edzerzagallery.com. You’ll find authentic Indigenous art on the Lower Mainland-based website too.
Online Christmas Craft Markets
There are usually lots of holiday artisan markets this time of year, although not in 2020. Ordinarily, these are fabulous places to find unique and wonderful locally-made gifts. Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus pandemic, most craft markets were cancelled. Some though were still happening online.
Christmas at Hycroft is one of our favourite annual holiday craft markets. It’s a fundraising event for the University Women’s Club and it features products made by local artisans. The event has a virtual marketplace this year. When doing your online shopping this season, be sure to check them out.
The Olde Farmhouse Market isn’t a “craft fair”. Instead, it’s a “junkers” market where you can buy antiques and wonderful vintage things from yesteryear. It ran an online market in 2020 on December 4th, 5th and 6th.
The Vancouver Christmas Market is an annual tradition, but one that wasn’t able to happen in 2020 thanks to the pandemic.
The Circle Craft Market is another amazing holiday artisan market that takes place in November most years. The 2020 event was cancelled because of COVID-19. The market is organized by an artists’ cooperative which also has a physical store at Granville Island. Even though the holiday market was cancelled, it doesn’t mean you can’t still buy wonderful BC-made art from many of the same vendors.
Shop at Stores in Your Community
Shopping malls are popular places to go shopping at, but so are small town main streets and places like Lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver, the West Broadway area in Kitsilano, Robson Street and Granville Street in downtown Vancouver, and other neighbourhoods throughout the Lower Mainland.
When shopping in-person, don’t always go to the big box stores. Shop at small independent places too. There are amazing locally-owned camera shops, toy stores, pet stores, gift shops and even second-hand stores close to where you live that are full of treasures to discover.
Other Things You Can Do
Other ways you can help local businesses and the economic health of your community this shopping season include eating out (or getting take-out) at local restaurants and donating to local charities. And when non-essential travel becomes possible again, vacation close to home and spend your holiday dollars at local hotels and attractions.
Support Local Restaurants
While doing your holiday shopping, when you’re out and about and feeling hungry, don’t forget to support local restaurants with your shopping dollars. And while you’re there, consider getting restaurant gift cards to support your favourite restaurant (for yourself or as gifts for friends). Many places offered bonuses over the Christmas season, like $10 or $15 extra when you purchase $50 or $100 in gift cards.
As an example, from November until December 23rd, Dockside Restaurant on Granville Island offered $60 worth of gift cards for the price of $50. It’s a nice restaurant, and that’s a 20% bonus!
For ideas on places to eat, see our article about Lower Mainland Restaurants.
Did you know …
FreshSlice Pizza and A&W are big chain fast food restaurants. Did you know though that both corporations have head offices based in the Lower Mainland? When looking for fast food and you can’t find a small, local, independent place, consider buying from a locally-owned franchise from a chain with BC-based roots.
Donate to Charity
2020 was a challenging year for non-profits and local charities. If you can afford it, consider helping those less fortunate. Whether it be the Salvation Army, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, the Harvest Project on the North Shore, your local food bank or some other favourite charity, they can use your help.
If you want to help kids, consider donating to KidSport, the Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, or to a Lower Mainland summer camp. Summer camps are especially struggling in the COVID-19 era.
With festivals cancelled and venues closed, arts organizations are hurting this year like never before. If you care about theatre and the performing arts, consider a donation to places like the Arts Club, Vancouver TheatreSports, Bard on the Beach, Theatre Under the Stars or any of the Lower Mainland’s various other music and performing arts groups.
TIP: When making a donation to a charity that covers multiple jurisdictions, like all across the country, be sure to specify that you want the dollars to benefit someone or something in your local community (unless you want to help folk in developing countries who can really use our help too).
20% off 2021 Walking Tours
Forbidden Vancouver is a walking tour company that’s now closed for the season. It has been offering gift certificates for tours in the 2021 and 2022 seasons at a 20% discount. What a great (and local) Christmas present that’ll make for someone!
We’re not supposed to engage in non-essential travel currently, which makes sense. For the immediate future, stay close to home! When travel becomes possible again though, instead of travelling overseas, stay close to home and enjoy a staycation. Stay at a local hotel, either in your own town or somewhere else in the Lower Mainland.
Local hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are hurting terribly right now. And overseas tourists won’t be pouring into our communities any time soon. When travel is possible, don’t spend your dollars on long (and risky flights) to far-away places. Stick close to home, where medical coverage is free, and support the local economy with your vacation dollars!
For ideas on where to stay when conditions permit, see our article about Downtown Vancouver Hotels.
VANCOUVER HOTEL TIP
When booking a hotel in downtown Vancouver, check out the website StayVancouverHotels.com. The website offers good rates on accommodations, plus bonus perks like $25 gift cards when making reservations. And sometimes their gift cards are worth a whole lot more!
About BC Buy Local Week and LocoBC
BC Buy Local Week celebrated its 9th year in 2020. Organized by LocoBC, which is a network of local and independently-owned businesses, the campaign connects buy local efforts and promotions from across British Columbia.
During BC Buy Local Week you can expect to see and hear a lot about the importance of buying local and supporting local businesses. Hundreds of businesses and organizations from across the province participate. Campaign partners include chambers of commerce, business improvement associations, and individual businesses (including places like Vancity Credit Union, North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale Shipyards District and other business associations).
LocoBC is the organization behind BC Buy Local Week. They do research, facilitate business engagement, and work with stakeholders on public policy and educating the public. Vancouver’s Best Places has been a proud member of LocoBC for a number of years.
For those that might be interested, some fascinating research papers LocoBC has been involved in producing include the following:
- The Economic Impact of Local Businesses
- The Impact of Online Shopping on Local Business
- The Power of Purchasing: The Economic Impacts of Local Procurement
See the LocoBC Resources webpage for details about these and other papers.
Did you know that credit unions are locally-based financial institutions that are owed by their members. When you keep your money in a credit union, you help keep dollars in your community and BC.
Other articles and resources that might be of interest include the following:
- BC Buy Local Week
- LocoBC (an organization that promotes locally-owned businesses and which Vancouver’s Best Places is proud to be a member of)
- Vancouver’s Best Shopping Districts, Malls and Markets
- StayVancouverHotels.com (a website that offers great deals and bonus perks for booking stays at downtown Vancouver hotels)
- Lower Mainland Entertainment Coupon Book (a resource that offers 2-for-1 deals at hundreds of stores, restaurants, tourist attractions and other places of interest)
- Vancouver Farmers Markets
- Lower Mainland Restaurants