Sun. Apr 21st, 2024
Justin Bonds and Chuck Lemay of Lemayzzz Meats. Chuck said they are active in supporting the local community, including donations and helping families at Christmas time.

They say a rising tide lifts all boats.

With Christmas quickly approaching and plenty of holiday shopping occurring, local businesses are hoping people will do some of their shopping locally.

Paula Opdam, owner of Grant’s Gifts, said local businesses “need a bit of a push after the last few years.”

“I just think buying local is the way to go,” she said. “When you shop local, they do a happy dance every time.”

Opdam said local businesses “need a bit of a push after the last few years.”

“Amazon seems to have boomed and small businesses seem to be dissipating,” noted Opdam. “It is important to shop local — it keeps people employed and keeps more money going into our local economy.”

“People that live in town want it to flourish. You don’t get that by sending money out of town or online,” said Opdam.

“About 68 per cent of the money spent at a local business remains locally. So that is a huge support. So when we shop local, when we make purchases locally too, knowing that that’s actually giving back to the economy, I think it’s really key,” said Mishka Balsom, CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce.

“Small businesses are the majority of net job creation or creators. They really create a lot of job opportunities and that again drives our own community,” said Balsom.

Mary-Lou Ambrose-Little, executive director of the Port Colborne Downtown BIA, said that when you shop local, “your money is going to support a local family and a local business.”

Ambrose-Little said there “about 15” new businesses “that are hoping to stay viable,” but she noted that all depends on the Christmas season.

She noted many businesses see slowdowns in January.

“For the newer ones, they have got to work really hard and build relationships with their customers in the community,” said Ambose-Little.

Chuck Lemay, owner of Lemayzzz Meats, said shopping local was important because it helped to build a strong community.

“When you take care of people, they take care of you,” said Justin Bonds, a Lemayzzz employee. 

Lemay said they are active in supporting the local community, including donations and helping families at Christmas time.

Chantal Asselin runs Connect To Your Sole. She sells healing body butter, neuropathy cream and skin-healing salves.

Asselin said shopping local helps to keep money local as well.

She said she tries to support local businesses when she can as well, because those people are “trying to make a life and find their way.”

“I find sometimes big box stores, they take away from people,” said Asselin.

Greg Poisson, owner of Canalside Restaurant, Inn & Kitchen Store, said most of the profits from local businesses are spent in town.

“Employers pay local taxes, employees spend their earnings locally,” said Poisson. “Brick-and-mortar stores pay taxes and utilities in the community.”

“We also give back to the community through events, sponsorship and donations,” he said.

Port Colborne economic development officer Bram Cotton said shopping local is very important “because when you shop local, you’re making a personal investment in your neighbourhood and community.”

“Money is kept in the community because locally owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms,” said Cotton.

My Main Street ambassador Olga Loeffen said shopping locally is “a way to create and retain wealth in the community.”

“Money spent at local shops circulates in the local economy far longer than money spent at chains, generating more local activity and creating more local jobs,” said Loeffen.

“Plus, when you purchase from a local independent shop, you’re supporting an entire family that most likely lives in your community, and that’s a wonderful feeling.”

There will be upcoming events organized by the Downtown BIA and Main Street BIA to make shopping local easier.

— With files from Abby Green


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: With Christmas just around the corner and the associated holiday shopping, reporter Nick Fearns spoke to small businesses to see what shopping local meant to them.

CORRECTION – Dec. 16, 2022: This story has been updated from a previously published version to correct the spelling of Justin Bonds’ last name and clarify his relationship to Lemayzzz Meats. 

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