Whistler has always encouraged its residents to shop local and support independent businesses, but that message is being reinforced around the province this week with BC Buy Local Week, running from Nov. 30 until Dec. 6. The campaign aims to get British Columbians thinking first about purchasing their holiday gifts close to home.
“If I didn’t have strong local loyalty, I’d be sunk,” said Dan Ellis, owner and manager of Armchair Books. “It has to be said that we need more people to pay attention to local shops, whether it’s a book store, a hardware store or a kitchen store. Thanks to all the locals who come into Armchair Books year after year and month after month, I’m still in business.”
BC Buy Local Week is being promoted in Whistler as a partnership between the Whistler Centre for Sustainability (WCS), Local Whistler and LOCO, a non-profit business alliance that seeks to improve economic sustainability in communities.
“There’s lots of evidence that shows supporting local businesses keeps money circulating in the community, more than buying online or from the big chains,” said Cheeying Ho, executive director of WCS. “If we can support local businesses who employ local employees, then it generates wealth for those employees who can then keep living in the community and spend their money.”
As well as adding to the economic and social resiliency of Whistler, buying local also gives opportunities to showcase local innovation and unique products and services, Ho said.
“Visitors to Whistler like the genuine, authentic experience. They like to shop where the locals shop and they like the local products.”
While the WCS is supporting BC Buy Local Week as much as it can through its volunteer hours (no funding was made available for the campaign), Whistler Local has been hitting the streets to drum up support with the businesses themselves.
“Local businesses really appreciate being acknowledged, recognized and celebrated for their unique contributions to the local economy and community,” said Moselle Dibdin, founder of Whistler Local. “They’ve been really receptive to the campaign, I think they’re excited to have a way of getting some additional exposure, especially to Lower Mainland (visitors).”
The calling card of BC Buy Local Week is a circular pink sticker, which is decorating the counters, storefronts and staff of locally owned businesses.
“This sea of pink dots being created is something that people are familiar with in the Lower Mainland,” said Dibdin. “It really helps that it’s a province-wide campaign. There’s also some great opportunities for the local business owners to engage in the social media campaign with hashtags ‘#BCBuyLocal’ and ‘#ChooseS2S.’”
The public can also participate in the social media campaign with a chance to win a prize basket with gift certificates to local businesses. Enter by uploading photos to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at your favourite Sea to Sky corridor businesses using the hashtags #BCBuyLocal and #ChooseS2S.
For more information on BC Buy Local Week head to localwhistler.com.