We are all in this together, so buy local 

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Prior skis and snowboards are crafted locally in Function Junction.
  • Photo submitted
  • Prior skis and snowboards are crafted locally in Function Junction.

With December underway most of us are well into our "making-the-list" phase of Christmas shopping.

This happily coincides with the Buy Local campaign, which runs through the end of this week.

Hopefully you are noticing the hot-pink circular logos around Whistler alerting you to the benefits of shopping in your own backyard.

This is not just an eye-catching marketing ploy by merchants — several lofty organizations, including Harvard University, have done studies over the years that have found great benefits from shopping local — and not just for goods, but also for services such as banking.

"Buying local not only keeps money in British Columbia, it also contributes to job creation. Small businesses employ more than one million people in B.C. and provide about 55 per cent of all private-sector jobs in the province — the second-highest rate in Canada," a government release supporting the Buy Local campaign states.

Buy Local Week is organized by LOCO BC — a local business alliance working to create a diverse, vibrant local economy by strengthening small and mid-sized businesses. This is the third annual Buy Local Week proclaimed in B.C.

"Local businesses create more than double the economic impact of their chain competitors, and spending your dollars with local businesses means that money re-circulates in your community 2.6 times, creating a bigger economic impact for your region," explained Amy Robinson, founder and executive director, LOCO BC.

"Canadian consumers spend about $1,500 on average on food, alcohol, gifts and travel during the holiday season. When people shift just one per cent — a $15 purchase — of that spending to local business, it multiplies local wealth and supports more jobs and stronger communities."

LOCO found last year that the one-per-cent increase in B.C. consumer spending creates 3,100 jobs and $94 million in annual wages to B.C. workers.

According to the 2014 Small Business Profile, B.C. has the most small businesses per capita in Canada, at 83.4 per 1,000 people.

About 382,200 small businesses were operating in the province in 2012, 81 per cent of which had fewer than five employees.

Of course there are many small businesses in Whistler working hard to keep the resort economically sustainable. I only have to walk out of the door to see them — and it's incredible to think some are celebrating decades in business. Among them are Slopeside Supply (20 years), Prior (25 years) and the Whistler Grocery Store (34 years).

Part of their success lies in the work they do to hire locally and shop locally themselves where they can. It is this circular notion of business that lies at the very root of why buying local works.

In a story earlier this year, Prior's general manager Emilie de Crombrugghe said: "I feel like people are more and more trying to reconnect to what they own, and what they eat and what they do."

That is also apparent in grocery stores and eateries throughout the resort and beyond as residents and visitors alike seek out "local."

Added to this focus on local shopping this year is a proliferation on the Internet of locals selling gently used or even new items on various buy and sell sites. What an awesome way to share community resources. How many dollhouses does one community need to buy?

Buy Local Week is strong reminder of the value of community, something that is no doubt front and centre, as our new councillors were sworn in Dec.2.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has a "Sustainable Purchasing Guide" about local procurement.

"Sustainable purchasing is important for everybody – through better purchasing choices, the RMOW can continue to reduce its negative impacts on environmental and social systems... done well it can help to support local economic development, and promote healthier communities," states the 2006 guide.

As the new councillors join our incumbents the consideration of local business in the resort needs to continue to be one lens they view decision making through.

Yes, "staff" at the RMOW does most of the research about products and direction when it comes to decision making, but councillors have been elected by residents to act in the best interests of the people — not just what is most expedient, or the best value. Sometimes buying local can be more costly, but the spinoff effects can make it worthwhile.

As the resort heads into a new season, with new faces at the table of local government, it is more important than ever to remember we are all in this together.



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