News / Vancouver

Buy local this holiday season, Vancouverites

Whether you sip locally roasted coffee on a holiday date or place a locally grown wreath on your front door, a group of Vancouver entrepreneurs wants you to buy local this season.

If just 1 per cent of holiday spending was diverted to local businesses – the average Canadian shells out $1,400 on gifts, food, booze and travel during this time of year – it would create 3,100 jobs across B.C., LOCO founder Amy Robinson, whose organization advocates for small businesses.

Sure, the price tags may be lower at major retailers during Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but local shops give back to their communities, Robinson said during a tour of three local businesses to kick off B.C.’s second annual Buy Local Week on Monday.

“They live here, they circulate profits here,” she said, noting local shops often hire local and give to charities in their communities. “If those people don't have customers, we don't have strong communities.”

Local florist Olla Flowers, for instance, sells locally grown succulents, hires people from the Downtown Eastside with barriers to employment and teaches classes on how to make living wreaths, owner Megan Branson said from her second floor shop.

Branson’s three-year-old business is even working with a charity to make vases and ceramics in Vancouver.

Down the street, East Van Roasters can’t keep up with the demand for its homemade chocolate, chocolatier Shelley Bolton said. (Sample it and you’ll know why.)

The coffee and chocolate shop, operated by the Portland Hotel Society, started to help women living upstairs at the Rainier Hotel. It employs 10 people from the community.

The brew is served at local restaurants like Nuba, where manager Maddy Kipling was happy to shine a spotlight on local businesses where she sources her greens and her ice cream.

These community relationships add the kind of value that doesn’t come from saving a buck, LOCO’s Robinson said.

Representatives from the Vancouver Economic Commission and Vancity, along with MLA Naomi Yamamoto, also attended the tour to support the small businesses that make up 70 per cent of Vancouver companies.

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