A mostly empty sidewalk on Kelowna's usually-busy Bernard Avenue on May 13, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Support local this season: Kelowna Chamber of Commerce

Executive director Dan Rogers is encouraging residents to support local businesses this Christmas

With the holiday season around the corner in the midst of a global pandemic, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is encouraging residents to keep supporting local businesses as they start to think about Christmas purchases.

Dan Rogers, the chamber’s executive director, said small businesses are feeling nervous and anxious as Black Friday and the holiday season roll around.

“It’s a combination of the impact of the pandemic over most of the past year, the fact that margins are always pretty tight and there are questions as to how much people will be spending this winter and exactly where they’ll be spending that money,” he said.

“Will people stay home and shop online with big retailers from the U.S.? Or will they look at investing their money locally?”

He said the chamber is concerned that residents will want to shop online and internationally as Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals come up, which is why they’re working on their messaging and campaigns to encourage more residents to keep supporting small local businesses.

“Even if you’re online, look for a local option… there’s a tremendous amount of value if you look to shop locally because that puts money into local business owners, which enables them to employ locals who could be your next-door neighbour. That money puts food on the table at a critical time.”

“It creates employment and economic wealth that helps keep the community going so now more than ever, it’s important that people think about where they’re spending their money whether they’re buying online or looking to do something in person,” he said.

Rogers added this can mean buying gift certificates to local retailers and restaurants as a holiday present for a loved one or even checking up on owners and asking what you can do to help them.

He said that overall, the pandemic has produced a mixed bag of results for small businesses in Kelowna.

“There are two sides to this coin. Some businesses continue to struggle, some more than others depending on the sector they’re in. But we’re also seeing some great stories of resilience,” he said.

“Some of them have reshaped their businesses and their business models, adjusting how they engage with their customers in a very rapid fashion. They’ve stepped up to the plate and are hitting it out of the ballpark.”

For a directory of Kelowna businesses, their hours of operation as well as online purchasing options, visit the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce website.

READ: Police called to Kelowna Costco after patron refuses to wear mask

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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