#supportlocal has been trending more and more these past few years as we’ve watched our economy take a dive and lifestyles adjust accordingly. Some families have been strictly shopping sales, time-consumingly looking for the best deal where ever they can, and just saying no all together when it comes to needing or wanting something. The competitive and somewhat convenient world of online shopping has made it difficult for local businesses to well…stay in business. How many new stores and restaurants do you see pop up and you say to yourself, “well we all know that won’t last.” Or when you see one is closed, you say, “Doesn’t surprise me.” There has never been a more important time, in my opinion, to support our local businesses. The common reasons to support local most definitely continue to ring true, however, I’m approaching it from a different view in this post. After the week that I’ve had, there is nothing that stands out more to me regarding supporting local than the fact that “When you support local, they support you.”
Last week, B went through her first ABM intensive treatment sessions. At the first session, it was recommended to us that B not wear her AFOs for the week and longer if possible (as long as we didn’t see signs that she for sure needed them). This meant that we needed to find her some shoes that fit her actual foot size and not to the size of her braces. How perfect that the therapy was out in Sherwood Park, because that’s where one of our favourite stores is located and it happens to also be our favourite shoe store! I’m talking about Max and Maude. I could have gone to stores like Winners, Walmart, or Superstore for example, hoping to stumble upon a pair that kinda fit, was supportive, and cheaper priced, but instead I headed to a local, family-run business because what better way to vote with my dollars?
B tried on several pairs of shoes and sandals. It’s tricky to shop for her because either we’re working with AFO braces or dealing with her super narrow feet (as I learned this week). We discovered a cute Geox pair of sandals that screamed her name. We were hoping that there was also a pair of Native shoes in her size and in the style that fit her feet, however, there were none in stock at that time. No big deal, we left more than excited with the Geox sandals after sharing in some wonderful conversation with one of the owners. When we got in the car, I couldn’t believe how much time had passed. Time flies when you’re having fun!
The next day, on our way home from our last session of the day, I received a call from an employee at Max and Maude saying that they had found a pair of Native shoes in the size and style that B needed, hidden in the back storage. The colour was silver sparkle, but the toe was slightly scuffed so if B wanted them, she could just have them. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. We, “could just have them?!” I was trying really hard not to cry so I thanked her so much for calling and said we’d be in the store in the morning.
We arrived in the morning and the shoes fit great! Out we walked with a new pair of shoes (that weren’t scuffed at all!), but not before I could no longer hold back tears of appreciation and hugged the lovely lady working that day. The week-long ABM therapy costs as much as a mortgage or rent payment and on a single income, the therapy is stressful enough to have to afford, let alone requiring high quality shoes on top of it all. I couldn’t put into words how thankful I was that the ladies at Max and Maude had kept B in mind and passed on a pair of shoes to her “just because”.
So this brings me (finally, I know) to the point of my post- “When you support local, they support you.” Did they need to do this for B? No. Did they do it because financially, the therapy is stressful? No. (I never mentioned a thing about that part.) Did they do this just because? Yes.
We are loyal customers and pass on the Max and Maude name whenever and where ever we can. When they get a new shipment of Plae shoes in, they put away the pairs in B’s size until we can get there to try them on. That has been the only consistent brand to fit B’s AFOs and if the shoe fits- you buy it! Do they have to do this for us? No. Do they take good care of us and go above and beyond? Yes. Do I shout it from the rooftops? Yes.
Max and Maude isn’t the only local company like this either. The list goes on really, but here are a few examples.
- Diane and her staff at Education Station have been no different towards my family. I support them and in turn they help in any way that they can! For this reason I shop there as much as possible vs somewhere like Michaels, Amazon, or Indigo. No where compares to how Diane and her staff cares for her customers.
- Bosom Babies took the best care of me when I was pregnant and once my children were born. Granted, I spent a lot of money there, however, we developed a friendship that went beyond being a regular customer. Would Toys R Us have your childrens’ names and birthdays memorized? Would they know what activities they are participating in and genuinely care what doctor they’ve been seeing for whatever reason and check in on them? Would they send products testers home with you because they trust your review? That’s a hard No.
- Keylime Athletic Wear in Sherwood Park has easily replaced Lululemon for me. They’ve always put customer satisfaction on the top of their list when I’ve shopped there. Recently, I’ve had to return a pair of pants there that were defective. They returned them no questions asked, apologized profusely for the inconvenience, helped me find a new pair that I loved, and then gave me a gift card to spend on an future purchase to help ease the blow of finding out a desired pair of leggings that they ordered for me weren’t what they were cracked up to be. Would Lululemon have behaved as so? Would they have cared that something was returned? Would they have gone above and beyond to ensure that I return to their store? The answer to all of them is No.
The differences are huge and indisputable when it comes to quality of customer service, customer support, and goods when you support local versus a box store. I also cannot ignore the fact that another noticeable difference between locally owned businesses and big corporate box stores is that local businesses make a point of making it easier for a person to shop with children. Every local business that I shop at has a play area for children, whether it be a clearly marked play area, or a bin of toys that’s pulled out as soon as we walk in. Examples include Earth’s General Store downtown, Education Station, Bosom Babies, Max and Maude, and Once Upon a Child which have safe play areas for children while you shop. Keylime, Yo Mama Maternity, Vespucci Consignment, and Carbon Environmental Boutique have bins of toys that are there for children when they arrive to make it easier for parents and caregivers to shop. I don’t know about you, but that puts them all far higher on my list of places to shop than a box store where I’m afraid they’ll just be taking all of the limbs off the mannequins (it’s happened!).
Speaking of shopping with children… for certain products and services I am a loyal customer to certain local businesses for personal reasons and preference. I feel that shopping this way with my children in tow is teaching them far more than financial transactions, how to pick out the best melon, and where to find the cheapest products. There are so many local businesses in the city where I stop in just to say hi. I’m pretty sure everyone likes seeing my children more than me because they’re far cuter customers. The staff at Studio Bloom on 124th street are proof of this, letting B & C run the cash register for example. All fun aside, when you support local businesses whether it be stores, farmers, artists, trades, or restaurants, you’re also teaching your children social skills, to care about where products are made (or grown) and what they are made from, and to care who you’re buying from (a family vs a giant corporation). You’re teaching them that they can make a difference with their dollars, even if just for one family. You’re teaching them that when you support local business, they support you. Those are life skills and ethics that you will not acquire from shopping at big box stores where you are just a number.
I am partial to supporting local because those are my roots. I grew up going to work with my mom and dad who owned their own trucking company. My mom always bought Made in Canada items and supported other local businesses where she could. My husband is also an entrepreneur, who owns two businesses, and who purchases domestic supplies whenever possible, even if it costs more. I’ve seen and continue to see the other side of supporting local rather than solely the consumer side. This is a huge contributor to why I choose to support local as much as possible but I think it is of great value, especially in today’s world.