By INGA MICHAELSEN
SSI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The holiday season has arrived and with it the tradition of shopping for gifts to give.
The media has been giving us tips about early shopping in the face of supply chain challenges and Black Friday Sales drove loads of people to shop this weekend. Living on a small island the temptation to buy off-island or online is strong. I get it. I have done it.
However, let’s explore what intention we want to bring to our gifting. Aren’t we giving gifts to show our care, love, and appreciation for someone? What if we extend that intention to also showing our love and care for our community and the planet by choosing to purchase as much as possible right here on our beautiful island home?
The benefits of shopping local are plentiful!
Maybe not as convenient as buying from Amazon but convenient nonetheless and without the negative environmental impact. Plus, no ferry line-ups and no extra run to the recycling depot to drop off that mountain of cardboard from your online purchases!
2. It’s better for our planet
By now most of us are aware that we are in a climate emergency. Shopping locally and more sustainably greatly reduces our carbon footprint, environmental impact, and supports our children’s future.
3. You help support local businesses
Our community would not be the same without our local businesses. The pandemic has hit them hard, and many are struggling with the consequences. Buying from your local businesses, whether from a market stall, an actual shop, or an online shop, is a great way to support your neighbours both financially and figuratively by showing your love for what they do.
4. You invest in your community
Purchasing goods at your local shops creates a ripple effect that benefits the whole community. For every $100 spent at a local business, $63 is recirculated back into our community. How? Our local businesses provide jobs, support local events, sport teams and charities, and buy local services and products.
5. There are great deals to be found
Our local shops regularly offer promotions that entice shoppers to come into the shop – especially during the holidays. They try to be competitive with off-island shops – and remember the money and time you save from not travelling off Island!
6. You will likely find quality products
Unlike larger chain stores, small businesses can’t stock many products and are likely to focus on the quality of the things they sell rather than the quantity. These products might be slightly more expensive but are likely more special and long lasting.
7. Items and food are more likely to be sustainably sourced
If you want sustainable shopping choices, you live in a great place. Many of the Salt Spring Island shops pride themselves in sourcing food from local farmers and stock items that are sustainably sourced or made right here on the island or region.
8. There’s more chance of finding special, wonderful, and unique items
Our island is home to many creative folks who sell their unique creations at the market, fairs and the shops around town. Instead of buying mass-created, trending seasonal products, enjoy choosing gifts that are original and one of a kind.
9. You make more thoughtful purchases
It is easy to buy products on impulse if you are browsing an e-commerce or chain store. One of the many benefits of shopping local is that it makes you more conscious of your purchasing. It takes more thought to buy a gift in a small store that sells unique items than getting a gift from a major retailer. Additionally, you are less likely to end up buying things you never set out to purchase in the first place.
10. It’s more fun, and connects you to your community
It is a social affair going shopping in your community. The likelihood of running into someone you know is high. During these dark winter months and ongoing Covid restrictions, getting a dose of social connection can be very uplifting. Though this might not be something everyone is seeking, it is comforting to see familiar faces in the stores, providing you with customer service you likely wouldn’t find in a big box store.
I recognize that not everyone has the luxury to shop locally, and we are limited to what is available on the Island, but I encourage you to be mindful about your purchasing choices. This Holiday Season offers a great opportunity to transform our habits of consumption and support a sustainable economy and environment here on Salt Spring.
Choose to look for what’s available to you right here in your community and be intentional about your giving by showing your love, care, and appreciation by shopping local this season.
Inga Michaelsen is the Ganges Vibrancy Coordinator at the Salt Spring Island Chamber of Commerce. To get in touch email email@example.com or call 250-537-4223.