The season of giving is creeping up, which means Nelson residents are going to hit the stores in search of the perfect Christmas gifts — and the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, Nelson Star, 103.5 The Bridge, and Nelson and District Credit Union are teaming up to encourage locals to shop in town.
“The Chamber has been involved through our business connections,” says manager Tom Thomson. “We feel that the business community is an extremely important part of our community and obviously supporting our local businesses is important to the long-term sustainability not just of those businesses, but the long-term sustainability of our community.”
Thomson said even though they are focused on getting people to think local during the holidays, they hope it will be part of a long-term educational campaign.
“We understand that there are always going to be times where people are out of town doing other things, but to get into your vehicle and go across the line just to shop in places like Spokane or to head to Kelowna?
“If you do a lot of your commerce down in those areas it becomes really problematic for the local community because the local businesses tend to support most of the minor hockey, hospital foundation, the Osprey Community Foundation and things like that through donations.
“When you go and shop out of town you take away from the viability of some of those businesses that take money out off their own pocket or their own shelves in donations back to the community.”
Tom Atkins of the credit union feels Nelson presents something truly special to shoppers year round.
“I think Nelson offers a pretty amazing selection of retail businesses and professionals that are in the area that offer unique services,” said Atkins.
“We’ve got world renown coffee shops. We’ve got world renown filmmakers. We’ve got boutique cupcakes and we have cooking stores and book stores that display local cookbooks. And there are restaurants with world renown wine lists and food.”
Unlike communities like Kelowna, Thomson feels that Nelson residents don’t lean as heavily on the mainstream.
“We’re not just a community that relies on chain stores, not that there’s anything wrong with chain stores. They still provide an awful lot of job opportunities and that sort of thing for the local residents,” said Thomson.
“But we tend not to get caught up in the box stores and the long strip malls. We’ve got this unique downtown core that is very important to our community’s vitality.”
Atkins said when people shop locally they are supporting their friends and neighbours which supports employment and the local economy.
“It’s the age old adage: it’s a logical decision to shop local. It keeps jobs and employment circulating in the local economy which has a multiplier effect. Every dollar that leaves never comes back,” said Atkins.
With a big spending weekend ahead in the US with Thanksgiving sales and Black Friday, local businesses have banned together to offer a unique shopping experience to Nelson residents.
“You look at the local business community here and we have a Customer Appreciation Weekend which is sort of what we could call the White Friday sale. We’re trying to encourage people to stay here through the course of the American long weekend instead of thinking of going across the line. There are about 50 odd businesses participating in that sale,” said Thomson.