What the term ‘buying local’ really means to Calgarians

With National Small Business Day next week, it’s time to think about supporting local businesses during your holiday shopping.

By Krista Sylvester | November 21, 2021 |8:57 pm

With National Small Business Day around the corner on Nov. 27, it's a great time to think about supporting local businesses such as the ones in Inglewood, and Kensington, pictured here.

Photo: Shutterstock

‘Buying local’ is a phrase that’s tossed around a lot but what does that actually mean?

For Inglewood Business Improvement Area (BIA) executive director Rebecca O’Brien, the term is more than the sum of its parts. 

“It’s a term we’ve heard a lot, not just locally but all over the world,” O’Brien says. 

She herself has wondered what the term really means.

“If you live in the deep southeast, does ‘shopping local’ mean shopping within a kilometre of where you live? Interestingly enough, that’s not how people interpret and practice the term,” she says. 

“What it tends to mean to people is supporting small, independent businesses and there is a great pleasure people take in doing that.” 

Local businesses need the support more than ever as we enter into another holiday season amidst a pandemic, O’Brien adds. 

“They’re people that we know; our friends, our neighbours and our family, and because they’re like anybody else, they have had their vulnerabilities, too — a recession and a pandemic. So when the communities rally around them and support them, it makes a difference.” 

Why supporting local businesses is more important than ever

Not only is National Small Business Day on the horizon (for the record, that’s on Saturday, Nov. 27), but the headlines out of B.C mean there is expected to be some delays in the supply chain. 

“On a very practical level, a lot of people are worried about supply chains. Even with the floods going on in B.C this past week, a lot of people are worried about inventory levels, and whether certain materials are gonna be able to reach their destination,” Be Local coordinator Philip Lozano explains. 

 That’s where the benefits of shopping locally also come into play. 

“Not only are you supporting your neighbour and buying from a fellow Calgarian, but local is closest and it’s simple.” 

Lozano says there’s something to be said for eating at a restaurant that sources its food locally, for example. 

“When everything in the supply chain is all contained in Calgary, that’s a really special and beautiful thing,” he says. 

“These businesses are central figures in the community, they tend to give back to the community, and are involved with the community. They also try to make sure that they’re being responsible neighbours and doing good things for the community.” 

Behind the ripple effect of buying local 

It’s not just about supporting one local business; every dollar spent locally re-circulates with other local businesses creating $7 of local economic activity, according to Be Local, which is a network made up of over 350 local businesses. 

“There are a lot of businesses in Calgary that aren’t just local themselves, but because they are local, they prioritize community impact. They also try to buy from other local businesses, not just the business themselves, but often a lot of people within their supply chain that are also Calgary-based,” Lozano explains. 

“When you look at the economics, the numbers also rationalize and support the whole local movement.” 

Lozano says this phenomenon is known as the local multiplier effect where “the money we spend locally is compounding into much more than just that initial dollar.” 

Be Local produces a Holiday Gift Guide to support its local members each year. 

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Krista Sylvester

Reporter at Calgary Citizen

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