Calgarians encouraged to shop local as Christmas shopping season kicks off

CALGARY –

Calgarians shopping this holiday season are being asked to consider small businesses in an effort to provide a much-needed boost to the economy.

As big box stores offered Black Friday deals this week, a special initiative called ‘Small Business Saturday’ is encouraging shoppers to think of business owners who have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kensington BRZ launched a campaign this weekend to invite Calgarians to the neighbourhood each Saturday leading up to Christmas.

Annie MacInnis, executive director of the Kensington Business Improvement Area, says complimentary hot chocolate, free horse-drawn sleigh rides and community fire pits hope to draw hundreds of people each weekend.

“We’re going to ask Calgary to step up to the plate one more time because for every dollar someone spends locally, they generate six dollars for the local Calgary economy,” MacInnis said.

“This is a way to help our businesses, the usual metric is that businesses earn about 70 per cent of their annual income during the Christmas and holiday shopping season, so we really need people to support local this year.”

The shop local initiative is especially important for people like Victor Tipper who owns The Hidden Gem Market.

The new shop features handcrafted items from more than 60 local vendors, which Tipper hopes Calgarians will take advantage of as a result of recent supply chain issues.

“It’s just sort of coming to light that people are noticing all these local artists and local shops and there’s no reason why you can’t find everything that you need, actually local,” he said.

“This is really helping out hugely the people who were damaged by COVID massively. I’m talking about people who lost everything, and they’re in this store actually now and they’re continuing their dreams.”

Kensington has spent $40,000 for a series of beautification projects and light installations, along with thousands in gift cards to encourage shopping at small businesses.

Each week, Calgarians are encouraged to write a love letter to Kensington and submit it in person in an orange mailbox on 10A Street and Kensington Road for a chance to enter a weekly draw for $1,000 in prizes from area small businesses.

A total of 30 businesses in the area are also collecting non-perishable food items for the Veterans’ Food Bank until Dec. 17.

Meanwhile, Christmas in Inglewood is also inviting Calgarians to that historic community each weekend to enjoy local holiday shopping accompanied by a roaming caroling quartet, stilt walkers and free hot chocolate.

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY

This Saturday is being dubbed ‘Small Business Saturday’ by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The initiative is a hopeful reminder to consumers across Canada that small business owners need community support more than ever this holiday season.

According to a recent CFIB survey, about 49 per cent of Canadian small businesses are worried customers have moved on to big businesses and won’t return.

Despite their anxiety, about 43 per cent still remain optimistic that this holiday shopping season will be better than last year.

“There is no question that the pandemic has been the toughest of times for Canada’s small business owners – many weren’t even allowed to be open last year at this time,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president at CFIB.

“Customers have remained a bright spot. Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to get out and spark holiday joy.”

The CFIB has launched a new Small Business Saturday contest with over $20,000 available in prizes.

Consumers can enter at SmallBusinessEveryDay.ca until Nov. 28 for a chance to win one of 10 cash prizes of $2,000.

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