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Calgarians, businesses encouraged to #BuyLocalYYC ahead of holidays

A general view of Stephen Avenue in Calgary downtown.
A general view of Stephen Avenue in Calgary downtown. Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ahead of the holiday shopping season, a City of Calgary initiative is hoping Calgarians will choose local.

Dubbed #BuyLocalYYC, the campaign hopes to make it easier for local businesses to promote their products and services in Calgary, including digital marketing and social media advice as well as print, digital and video assets.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the holidays are a “terrific opportunity to buy local.”

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“To patronize local businesses rather than online, to actually come and support the businesses along our various main streets and throughout our community,” Nenshi said Monday.

“It really is an opportunity to support them in making our purchases here and support local businesses but also local suppliers, designers and so on.”

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The campaign is modelled after a similar one deployed after the 2014 floods.

“In conversation with the mayor and Calgary Economic Development and Tourism, we came up with the idea of trying to do something along the lines of the campaign we used after the flood in 2014 — the ‘We Are Open’ campaign,” Annie MacInnis, executive director of the Kensington Business Improvement Area, told Calgary Today.

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“It was a helpful campaign back then. It was encouraging Calgarians to support the local business districts — eight of 10 had been affected by the flood at the time.”

A different sort of force of nature — the proliferation of online shopping — combined with non-residential tax increases precipitated by a downturn in Alberta’s economy has hit Calgary businesses especially hard in 2019, MacInnis said.

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“This campaign came out of this spring’s unhappiness about property taxes and a lot of businesses saying they were struggling,” she said.

The city’s newly formed business and local economy team, headed by Sonya Sharp, is supporting the campaign.

“The business and local economy team is focusing on three priorities, and those are communication with our business customers, understanding our customers’ needs and wants as of today and how we can reduce the costs of doing business in Calgary,” Sharp said.

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Local business owner Annabel Tully said uncertainty is a major problem for local retailers.

“The big problem is the feeling of unease and wondering what’s coming,” Tully, the 22-year owner and operator of Kismet in Kensington, said Monday. “People are feeling anxious and uncomfortable. I think it’s important for us to stay the course and support one another and buy local.

“I think we can get through this together.”