During Membership Appreciation Month in March, the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce staff and board of directors made a determined effort to engage in conversation with as many of their members as possible. Many local business people expressed frustration with the lack of support from local people. But, during these conversations, it soon became clear that the frustration wasn’t only about encouraging people to buy from local businesses. It wasn’t just about shopping in downtown Courtenay, Comox or Cumberland or at the local malls. It wasn’t even about avoiding the big box stores, because they employ plenty of people who, in turn, support the grassroots local businesses.
On the contrary, the resonating message from local businesses was about getting people disconnected from the Internet and more connected with community. It was about encouraging people to not just ‘shop’ in person but to ‘buy’ something…anything! It turns out that online shopping is a huge factor affecting the inevitable success — or failure — of many local business enterprises.
One business owner lamented how frustrating it is when customers use his store as a ‘fitting room’ to ensure they knew the perfect style and size for whatever it is that they are looking to purchase, and then they go home to order the item from an online supplier. While the individual shopper may sometimes save a few dollars on the purchase, we have to ask the question: What is the actual ‘cost’ of these savings, in terms of the economic sustainability of our community?
The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce urges local people to make the ‘disconnection’ from online shopping and to rethink their Shop Local strategy. Face it: That’s the only way to help sustain the local economy.
Buy local. In person. Make a difference.
A message from the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce…taking care of business.