With Halloween behind us, local shops are packing up the pumpkins and banishing the ghosts and ghouls to the garage for another year. Window displays are trading in their cauldrons and cobwebs for a frostier look, complete with skates and snowmen. Wreaths and ribbons are popping up on shop doors and the ambient music takes on that familiar Burrell Ives tone.
While it seems like Boxing Day was only yesterday, the Christmas season is fast upon us once again, which means many of us are running out of time to start checking off those lists for the perfect present for our loved ones.
Later this month, we will see one of the largest shopping days of the year: Black Friday, where hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent on electronics, clothing, books and jewelry. Unfortunately for Canada's small businesses, not to mention the Canadian economy as a whole, many Canadians choose to flock across the border on Black Friday, and spend their hard-earned money in the U.S., instead of at home. According to a 2013 BMO study, nearly half of Canadians shop on Black Friday, spending an average of $292.
While the much lower Canadian dollar may discourage it anyway, I'd like to encourage Canadians to stay closer to home when doing their holiday shopping and support a small business. While your local small business might not be able to keep up with the advertising budgets of the big chains, many offer savings and discounts that are just as significant, and will save you those long hours stuck in the car at the border. Thousands of independent firms across the country have deals that can be found year-round at www.shopsmallbiz.ca.
Canada's small- and medium-sized businesses drive the economy - accounting for 50 per cent of the national GDP - and our communities thrive right along with them. In fact, 60 per cent of Canadians working in the private sector work at a small or medium business.
Small business owners take risks in starting up their enterprises. They work longer hours than most of us, take on greater stress, and retire later. They provide us not only with jobs that drive the community, but also a place to spend time with friends and family. A place to buy groceries, get the car repaired or do our taxes.
When you support a small business, you are not only supporting your local economy, you are supporting the heart of your communities. You are supporting your friends, your family and your neighbours.
I can think of no better ambassadors for the importance of small business to our communities than the winners of CFIB's #SmallBizLove contest (sponsored by Interac). These four small business owners (coincidentally all run by female entrepreneurs) were chosen as four of the most loved small businesses in Canada. Learn more about Winnipeg's Constance Popp of Constance Popp Chocolatier, Charlottetown, PEI's Flory Sanderson of Island Hill Farm, Medicine Hat's Kristine Dalzell of Zucchini Blossom and Toronto's Pam Horwood of Merchant of Tennis in the embedded videos.
On October 24, CFIB celebrated Canada's entrepreneurs with Small Business Saturday; a day when small businesses cut through big-business noise and advertising budgets and spoke directly to consumers, and in turn, a day where consumers showed their appreciation by supporting their local independent businesses.
This holiday season, let's carry that same spirit with us and support local small businesses by shopping small.
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