November 25, 2018 7:28 pm
Updated: November 25, 2018 7:29 pm

Small businesses urge Calgarians to shop local this holiday season

WATCH: Small businesses across Calgary are asking shoppers to check out neighbourhood stores for holiday gifts before looking online. Michael King reports.

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Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. Some Calgary businesses are reminding shoppers to check out local stores first instead of heading online to find that perfect gift.

Four Calgary neighbourhoods — Kensington, Bowness, 4 Street S.W. and 17 Avenue S.W. — highlighted the need to support local businesses.

Annie MacInnis, executive director of the Kensington Business Improvement Area, said it’s not the easiest time to own a small business but things are looking up.

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“It’s been a tough couple years,” said MacInnis. “We’re looking at a tough economy but we have gained more businesses than we’ve lost so people are optimistic.”

READ MORE: Small Business Saturday encourages residents to shop local

Small independent shops are looking for ways to compete against online giants and big box stores.

Carmen Ranieri, a Splash of Fashion employee, said the key is to offer products that are not carried anywhere else.

“We always have really super interesting and fun items,” said Ranieri. “Special things you want to look for — our brands that the malls don’t carry.”

MacInnis added many small shops are not opposed to the online shopping trend but said she thinks people still want to buy some items in person.

“I think that people want the retail experience,” MacInnis said. “They want to come in and try something on. So many times you try something on or taste it and it’s not what you expect.”

READ MORE: Small Business Saturday: Black Friday’s younger sibling raking in over $10B a year

Several Kensington stores had decent sales numbers for Black Friday. MacInnis said with Canada Post’s rotating strikes, the uncertainty for package deliveries is driving more customers to buy presents in person.

“I think that people are going to say ‘I don’t want to be empty-handed for Christmas. I want to shop local and there are some great deals to be had,’” she said.

It’s not just Calgary businesses who benefit from the shop local movements — it also helps mom-and-pop shops around the world.

Andrew Ferguson, owner of Kensington Wine Market, said since he runs a small business, he wants to support other independent producers.

“When it comes to champagne or Spanish wine, a lot of our product that we focus on are from smaller producers,” said Ferguson. “It’s about creating craft products and creating them well.”

Several of Kensington’s 275 stores will be continuing their shop local promotions through the holiday season, giving Calgarians plenty of time to get started on those wish lists.

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