Small businesses in Lethbridge are hoping people will support local this holiday season in order to help make up for lost revenue during the pandemic.
“Like we really bank on that, that’s when you can make money to get you through the slow months of the year and this year there’s been a lot of slow months because of this pandemic,” said Hunter Heggie, Chair of the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone and owner of the King of Trade store.
“So yeah, we’re really counting on this Christmas season to be a big driver for us,” Heggie added.
COVID-19 safety regulations — such as wearing masks, physical distancing and using hand sanitizer — are in full effect at businesses around the city.
Some businesses are also offering curbside pickup or delivery options to make customers feel more comfortable.
Josee Meere, the owner of Josee’s handmade imports said because her store offers hundreds of unique items from all over the world, an in-person shopping experience may do more justice than just browsing online – as long as all safety precautions are thoroughly followed.
Meere has owned the shop for 27 years and said her downtown location has plenty of foot traffic, which is much appreciated after the rough fiscal year.
Hannah Lee owns the shop Sill and Soil and said she hasn’t even had to do any advertising so far, because of the ongoing show of community support she’s gotten since first opening her retail store in August.
“I have told a lot of my customers that I didn’t really think Lethbridge was the city that goes downtown and looks around and shops, but my mind has totally changed from being down here,” Lee said.
“There are lots of people that are just coming downtown to enjoy the atmosphere, walking by, seeing my shop and coming in,” she added.
Due to the immense local in-store support Lee has received, she said she’s not worried about competition from big-box stores.
Sill and Soil does offer online shopping, but Lee said she has been focusing on the in-store experience with customers and it’s paid off.
Further to that point, Heggie said shopping locally can provide more of a communal connection than shopping online with big online companies, such as Amazon or Google.
“These are the people in your community that live here, they’re paying taxes here,” Heggie said.
“I don’t know anyone from Amazon that lives in our community or pays any taxes here at all, so we’re supporting the local community,” he said.
Heggie said shoppers may also find prices to be less inflated in local stores and retailers can help people save on pricey shipping and handling fees as well.