Manitoba business hopes push to shop local will outlast the holiday season

With the holidays right around the corner—Manitobans are being urged to buy local to support small businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Business has been bustling at The Locals—a holiday pop-up shop in Winnipeg’s Outlet Collection Mall.

“It is like a mini-mall of local makers,” said Nerissa Manzano, co-founder of The Local entrepreneurs of Winnipeg.

The Locals pop-up shop provides a space for local makers to sell their products in person during the holiday season. Manzano said due to the pandemic’s impact on small businesses, she’s noticed more of a push from people looking to buy local.

“Every day I get people telling me, you have to stay in the mall. Because this is just something that Winnipeg needs for Locals to be represented in a space like this,” she said. “It has been overwhelmingly amazing for us—for all of us.”

To encourage Manitobans to buy local this holiday season, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce has launched a province-wide buy local initiative.

“It is three easy steps—we want you to buy local, we want you to brag about your purchases on social media, and we want you to tag the businesses that you’ve supported and include the hashtag BuyLocalMB,” said Chuck Davidson, president and CEO of the Chambers.

Davidson said the Chambers will be awarding $100 visa gift cards each week to people who shop local and post using #BuyLocalMB.

He said when Manitobans opt to buy local instead of at a big-box store, it has a big impact.

“We know that according to community futures, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 will stay inside the community. And that is significant to the Manitoba economy,” he said.

“These entrepreneurs, these restaurant owners, these artisans, these makers are our neighbours and our friends. They boost our economy directly, as residents through taxes, and they employ thousands of Manitobans.”

It’s an initiative that the Downtown Winnipeg Biz hopes will help small businesses in the area recover from the pandemic.

“Times are tough right now, that is for sure. We know that it is really important that people come and support local and visit downtown,” said Pamela Hardman, the marketing director at the Downtown BIZ.

“We know that Downtown might be slower to recover from the pandemic than other neighbourhoods. Lots of people are still working from home. So we are working to really drive home that shop local message.”

Hardman said there are nearly 120 places to shop downtown and nearly 200 restaurants.

“Shopping local this holiday season can help those business owners have a great holiday themselves,” she said. “You really see that connection in this neighbourhood and that community and we are seeing people really step up and realize the importance of supporting local and supporting their neighbours.”

Though The Locals pop-up shop is set to close after the holiday season, Manzano believes the push to buy local will continue into the New Year and beyond.

“I think it will be more of a lifestyle for people to shop local as opposed to just supporting because there is a pandemic,” she said. 

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