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How to 'shop small' during Canada's Small Business Week

Prior to the pandemic, small businesses accounted for 97.9 per cent of all businesses in the country
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File photo by Maria Rantanen

With next week – Oct. 19 to 23 – being Small Business Week across Canada, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which serves the Lower Mainland, is encouraging consumers to make a special effort to shop small and support our local entrepreneurs.

This year has been challenging for everyone, especially small business owners.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proved as much of a financial crisis as a health one, significantly impacting Canadian business owners and their employees.

Prior to the pandemic, small businesses accounted for 97.9 per cent of all businesses in the country.

And since March, the Canadian economy has changed dramatically, leading to a profound negative impact, particularly on the small business community.

National surveys show that 60 per cent of small businesses with one to four employees and nearly 56 per cent of those with five to 19 employees reported declines in revenue 20 per cent or more.

"Despite the obvious difficulties, entrepreneurs have pivoted and attacked these challenges head-on," said Karla Laird, BBB’s manager for community and public relations.

“Many of them continue to provide our essential services, local jobs, and are an invaluable touchpoint in our communities. This is why now, more than ever, it is important that we make an extra effort to support our locally-owned small businesses. Shop small during Small Business Week to help make a big impact."

BBB is sharing the following tips about how consumers can support small businesses:

  •  Research the shops nearest to you. Think of the things you want and find out which businesses are open and ready to serve. Whether you are planning a local weekend getaway, thinking of an indoor project, looking for a new car, in need of a haircut or planning your wedding, start searching on BBB.org. Learn about the business, check their business rating and read reviews from past customers. Also check the businesses you frequently shop with. They may have altered their services to offer the product or service you need right now.
     
  • Get involved. Support the businesses that make your hometown unique. Are you a website designer, developer, or a social media expert? Offer your services to local businesses that don’t have an online presence to help them sell and promote online.
     
  • Sign-up for email alerts offered by the merchants in your area. Keep in mind, these alerts may be useful in the long run, since you will likely get notifications about future deals.
     
  • Connect with businesses on social media. Many small businesses actively advertise their sales via social media as well as keep the public updated about upcoming events and initiatives. You can also use social media to introduce a local business to those in your network. Social media plugs are a free way to show your support and the payoff is almost instantaneous. Try taking a selfie at your favourite small business, tag them and share it with the hashtags #BBB and #ShopSmall.
     
  • Invite your friends and family. Turn Small Business Week into a “friends and family” extravaganza! Find out what local events are happening in your area by visiting your local chamber of commerce website. Visit favourite local stores or explore a new one. Take time to get to know the business owners.
     
  • Do some gift shopping. With the holiday season around the corner, consider searching for that unique gift in a local store. Your local toy store, flower shop, bookstore or clothing boutique may be great places to start. A gift card from a nearby restaurant, hair salon or spa might also make a handy gift. If you have friends and family who are unable to visit the province, visit a local souvenir and gift shop to find the perfect gift to send abroad.
     
  • Don’t just shop small, grab take out from a local restaurant. Many people think that shopping at local retail stores is the only way to participate. However, small independently owned restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops would also love to welcome new customers.
     
  • Share your experience. Reputation can mean everything, especially for a small business owner trying to attract and retain customers. Share reviews about your experience with a local business on BBB.org, their website or social media page.

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