COCHRANE— This holiday season, there are numerous reasons to support local businesses, many of whom have faced closures, reduced capacities and significant drops in revenue.
Christmas is a very important time for many retailers, and with the uncertainty of COVID-19 looming, many are surely hoping for a busy shopping season.
To help you discover local holiday promotions, Cochrane Tourism is launching the Christmas in Cochrane Promotion, on the new Explore Cochrane app, where local businesses will be able to provide updates on seasonal offerings.
"Holiday shopping this year, more than any other year, is really about the support of small business owners because it can really impact our local economy and the community itself,” said Jo-Anne Oucharek with Cochrane Tourism.
It's about keeping local dollars local.
“When people spend money locally, 67 cents of every dollar spent remains in our local economy. Out of that 44 cents goes to the small business owner and their employee and their wages,” she said.
Not only do those dollars go to our friends and neighbours within the community, but the money that goes to local businesses is often fed back into community projects in a number of different ways.
It’s a roundabout way of giving your money back to community organizations, Oucharek said.
“With COVID, it’s easy for people to go online and buy things from Amazon, and buy things from Walmart and those online stores, but when the community goes out to businesses and asks for funding for not-for-profits, or funding for sports teams or local events, it’s the small business community that actually supports those local events,” she said. “You don’t get money from Amazon or Walmart.”
There are a number of factors that have added to the stress small businesses have felt in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health and safety protocols have come with increased costs for small businesses, which have often provided a number of measures to ensure that patrons feel safe in their stores.
“Well they had to shut their doors, some of them have shifted and done some online stuff, which has taken resources. What the local consumer might not know is the amount of money the small business had to invest for personal protective equipment—They have to put the plexiglass up, they have to provide PPE for their staff, they have to have hand sanitizer at the door, they have to do extra cleaning which includes more staff.”
The costs associated with ensuring customer and staff safety ultimately come out of the business's bottom line, Oucharek said.
“The impact on the small business owner through this pandemic has been significant for many of them. By the community coming back and supporting them really speaks volumes.”
Supporting the people who operate small businesses is supporting the people who make our community a vibrant and unique place to live, Oucharek said.
This year, it’s more important than ever.
“When we take care of our small businesses we’re taking care of our neighbours because those people live in our community and those people are the entrepreneurs that are providing us with great places to eat and great places to shop.”
Cochrane Tourism is launching the Christmas in Cochrane promotion on the Explore Cochrane App that will allow small businesses to list their promotions for users of the app to see.
The Explore Cochrane App can be downloaded for free on the Apple and Google Play app stores.