‘Try and think of a local store first’: Albertans encouraged to shop small this holiday

EDMONTON — There’s no question that 2020 has been a tough year for many, but local businesses have been hit especially hard. That’s why business owners are hoping more than ever that Albertans will shop local this holiday season.

“When you’re out and about doing your Christmas shopping this year, to just try and think of a local store first that you can go to,” said Angela Ruzza, owner of Jilly’s Boutique in Edmonton.

She says it’s especially important for shops to get that support during the holidays.

“In retail, you depend on that fourth quarter of your business to keep you going,” Ruzza said. “Everything that happens this month keeps us going through January, February, March, April.”

But this year there’s an extra challenge. Ruzza said Jilly’s Boutique usually holds a Black Friday sale, but they’ve decided to forgo it this year because of the pandemic.

“The biggest thing for us this year is to remain profitable, we don’t have money to give away.”

She’s not alone. A recent study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found that 40 per cent of small business owners felt they couldn’t survive another lockdown like the one the province saw in the spring. The next few weeks will be critical for their survival.

But regardless of big discounts, Annie Dormuth, the provincial affairs director for CFIB, notes that there are a lot of advantages to shopping local.

“Small businesses are safe to shop at. We have survey data that shows 80 per cent of Alberta small businesses have gone above and beyond the provincial guidelines for their industries which is really quite a telling number,” she told CTV News Edmonton.

“Furthermore, 90 per cent have said in the retail industry specifically that they are able to limit capacity and operate safely, so as you think about that maybe instead of heading to your crowded big box store you head to your local small business which are doing everything they can to keep staff and customers safe.”

And supporting a small business may go further than you think; Jilly’s Boutique carries a number of products that are made locally.

“We have Jacek Chocolate, which is based out of Sherwood Park, and we also have Violent Chocolate which is based out of Windermere.”

“So you’re supporting two local business owners you’re supporting two local communities,” Ruzzo said.

Products at Jilly's Boutique

And the service can’t be beat.

“We’re pretty much willing to do whatever it takes right now to help you. To go above and beyond,” said Ruzza. “If you’re not comfortable getting out of your car, you just let us know for curbside pick up and you pop your trunk and we’ll put that in the truck for you.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Nicole Weisberg

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