Shop Local campaign kicks off across Castlegar

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
January 20th, 2012

 Castlegarians will be hearing “Shop Local” a great deal in the coming months, as all four of the city’s major media outlets embark on a shop local campaign spear-headed by the Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce (CoC), and funded by the Heritage Credit Union.

The campaign, according to CoC executive director Pam McLeod, is a public education initiative designed to help realize the true benefits of supporting local businesses.  “Being so close to the US border, cross-border shopping is a huge barrier for local businesses – that was feedback they offered loud and clear,” McLeod said. “The message we’d like to get across is that, of course, it’s about economics – keeping money in our communities means keeping jobs for people who will, in turn, spend money here, making for a vibrant and thriving economy.  “But it’s important to remember that it’s not just about business – local businesses give back in terms of donations and volunteer hours supporting local charities, clubs, sporting organizations, and more. You can’t put a price on that.”  She said every penny spent within the local economy amounts to a value-added purchase .  “And we’re not just looking at Castlegar – shopping in Trail and Nelson keeps that money and support in the region. The whole region is an economic entity in which all communities rely on each other for their mutual, long-term well-being.”  She said the campaign will involve a variety of media platforms and will humanize the ‘Shop Local’ concept for residents, introducing local business owners and encouraging people to really consider the way they shop.  That’s all good news to Dave Streloff who, with his family, has owned and operated JJ’s Fashions in Trail (and now in Castlegar) for the past 39 years. He said his parents, Jo and Ruby Streloff, were born and raised here, and opened their own business in 1973.  “’Shop local’ has always been one of those touchy subjects, because it looks like business owners are whining – but it’s really not about that,” he said. “I think maybe people don’t realize what’s available in their own backyard. I think if they looked at what’s here first, before heading out, they’d be shocked – not just at what’s available here, but at how good the prices are, too.  “We don’t have the same kind of overhead a company in a Kelowna mall would have to pay, so we often have really great deals. If people looked around here, I think they’d find we’re more than competitive.”  But he said the economic realities are just a tiny piece of the larger benefit local businesses bring to their communities.  “We need the community to support us – but when the community needs support, we step up. I know minor hockey needs the help of local businesses to survive, and JJ’s always helps out local schools when they come to us.  “And we’re just one business. We all have to work together to keep our community strong and prospering.”  He concluded by pointing out that local businesses also contribute hugely to the tax base, which pays for day-to-day amenities that are so critical in any town – emergency services, roads, sewer, water, infrastructure – local commerce, he says, is literally part of keeping the lights on, for the whole region.  Follow the new  Shop Castlegar campaign on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/ShopCastlegar