Why Shop Local?

"Shopping local" is a phrase that is permeating our culture, one may even say it's what the hip kids are doing these days. We all know shopping local is probably a good idea, but why exactly is it so great? Does it really make a difference? We’ve talked to a couple local Calgarian experts to find out exactly how choosing to shop locally impacts our community.

Stephanie Jackman, REAP Calgary

Stephanie Jackman, Founder of REAP Calgary 

Stephanie Jackman, Founder of REAP Calgary 

First, we talked to Stephanie, the founder & director of Respect for the Earth and All People (REAP). REAP is a network of 150 Calgary area businesses that believe in the power of business to create more good. REAP businesses promote the benefits of being local, educate Calgarians about the local options in our city and support each other to increase economic and social impact.

Stephanie began her career in marketing but grew tired of accepting the typical “capitalist trade-offs” of running a business. To show the community that more conscientious ways of operating were possible, and also profitable, she started REAP. Stephanie says that choosing a local business over a large chain doesn’t just feel good, it creates a tremendous amount of economic impact.

Local businesses spend 25% more of their revenue in the local economy than big brand businesses. That means your money will be spent at other local businesses, creating more jobs, supporting more donations to community organizations and reducing the environmental impact of international imports. Stephanie says “independent businesses create more net new jobs than large businesses and exponentially more jobs than online businesses. For every $10 million in revenue, Amazon creates 14 new jobs, a chain creates 50 new jobs, and an independent business creates 110 new jobs. Local businesses are the real drivers of the economy!”

Did you know?

  • Shifting just 10% of your purchases to local businesses can create 31,000 new jobs and $940 million in new wages (Civic Economics

  • Local businesses pollute 15x less than non local businesses 

  • Local restaurants spend 3x more money locally than chains

... And each year REAP Businesses: 

  • Generate $21 billion in revenue for the Alberta economy

  • Employ 8,300 Albertans

  • Donate $5 million dollars to local charities

  • Divert 9.5 million kgs of waste from Calgary landfills

  • Divert 11,000 tonnes of CO2 through green power purchasing

  • Volunteer 93,000 hours

As mass production and the homogenization of culture pervades our generation, we can reconnect with our “place” by supporting local. Local services and products reflect the lives of the people in your community, are able to be more transparent in their production practices than big brand businesses and can provide personalized service through direct connections with their customers.

To find local businesses, Stephanie suggests visiting belocal.org, where you can find a directory of businesses in the REAP network.   

Myra, Velour Clothing Exchange

Myra, Owner of Velour Clothing Exchange 

Myra, Owner of Velour Clothing Exchange 

We also connected with Myra, a local entrepreneur, to hear about her experience as a local business owner. Myra is the inspiration & owner behind the recently opened Velour Clothing Exchange. Through running this local business, Myra has learned first hand the circular support of shopping local. When people buy from Velour Clothing Exchange, Myra can pay a living wage to her local staff who can then also spend the money locally. She can also use her shop to sell and promote local artisans and events.

In opening Velour, Myra has seen how local shops work together to support each other, which strengthens the community. Being able to meet your customers and other business owners has shown her the wealth of generosity and diversity in the Calgary community. When shopping at Velour, the customer can get to know Myra, receive her expertise while shopping and be inspired by her passion for vintage clothing! When was the last time you could call the owner of your favourite retail store your friend?

You can do more than shop to support local businesses!

Here are a few other ways that you can show local businesses some love and help spread the message that shopping local really does make a difference...

Are you passionate about supporting local? We'd love to hear about some of your favourite local businesses!