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Opinion: Buy local in Whistler this holiday season

'Spare a thought for our hard-working local mayo producers, sweating it out over so many hot eggs'
That feeling when your online order of mayo finally arrives.

Every single day, hundreds of thousands of cardboard-boxed online purchases zip their way to and fro across Canada, first sorted in massive, overstuffed warehouses and packed solid into delivery trucks before shipping out en route to so many porches.

For better and for worse, consumerism has never been easier, or more efficient.

We feel a familiar, primal longing, or an urge—an inner incompleteness of sorts—and with a few taps of a phone screen or clicks of a mouse we attempt to fill the hole.

Whether or not we’re successful at that in the long run is irrelevant; all that matters is we have ordered the thing, and in three to five business days we will find it on our doorstep when we return home from work.

Modern-day magic in the material world.

According to Statista, Canada Post delivered about 286 million parcels in 2022, down 20 per cent from the 361 million in 2021 (and the all-time parcel peak in the pandemic year of 2020: 389 million).

While it sure is convenient to be able to order an industrial tub of mayonnaise to your doorstep and have it arrive (discretely, hopefully) in a matter of days, online shopping through platforms like Amazon—particularly around the busy holiday period—does no favours for our local small businesses.

That’s why B.C.’s chambers of commerce and other business groups promote Buy Local Week, now in its 12th year.

Promoted by non-profit business alliance LOCO BC and Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Buy Local Week, taking place this year from Nov. 27 to Dec. 3, encourages British Columbians to support their locally run businesses during the busy holiday season.

According to CFIB’s Small Business, Big Impact: Small Retailers’ Local Contributions report, for every dollar spent at a local independent B.C. retailer, 66 cents stay within the local economy. On the flipside, only 11 cents of every dollar stay in the community when consumers shop at a large, multinational business, and just eight cents stay local
when the purchase is made at an online giant like Amazon.

“The need to support local businesses has never been more important, as our community businesses face record-high inflation, a labour shortage, and employee housing crisis—a triple whammy,” said Amy Robinson, founder and executive director of LOCO BC, in
a release.

The CFIB report also found consumers underestimate small retailers’ contributions to local economies by almost two times, while also overestimating the contribution of multinationals and online giants by more than two times.

Though nine in 10 consumers say they love having small, independent businesses in their community and think they are important to the community’s future, the report found more than three in four small retailers are losing customers and revenues to big businesses.

“We encourage everyone to prioritize shopping local not just during BC Buy Local Week, but throughout the whole year,” said Emily Boston, a policy analyst at CFIB and the co-author of the report, in the release. “Even a small change in spending habits will have a positive impact on local economies.”

Here in Whistler, we’ve got no shortage of local entrepreneurs we can support—Village Stroll storefronts, local restaurants, activity providers, artists and musicians, physical therapists and personal trainers… the list goes on.

One easy way to support local is to start by thinking of your friends and neighbours—how do they contribute to our community, and how can I support them?

And if that special someone in your life is especially hard to buy for, you can always make a donation in their name.

Giving Tuesday—the charitable response to Black Friday’s religious consumerism—was Nov. 28, but the need at organizations like the Whistler Community Services Society is not confined to just one day. This year’s Giving Tuesday campaign at WCSS supports its Counselling Assistance Program, which is still seeing more demand than ever before.

Is your special someone a history buff? The Whistler Museum and Archives is seeking donations towards its new building project.

That’s barely scratching the surface—there is a long list of local non-profit organizations in Whistler and the Sea to Sky that would love your support this Christmas (find more here).

In short, there is a whole lot of good we can do with our dollars right here in Whistler this holiday season rather than sprinkling them on top of Jeff Bezos’ already exorbitant wealth.

So before you hit the checkout button on that industrial tub of mayonnaise, spare a thought for our hard-working local mayo producers, sweating it out over so many hot eggs.

Your mayo may not arrive tomorrow, but you’ll sleep easier knowing your dollars are doing good for Whistler.