Local businesses asking shoppers to think local first

The third annual Think Local Week is from Dec. 1 to 7.

Local businesses are asking the public to think local first, as the third annual Think Local Week rolls out next week. Think Local First Victoria is an initiative consisting of Greater Victoria business owners that aims to encourage residents to shop at local businesses.

“The primary focus of Think Local Week is to educate the public on the benefits of buying local,” said Gayle Robinson, president of Think Local First Victoria and owner of Robinson’s Outdoor Store. “When you spend 10 per cent of your money locally, 25 per cent more stays in Victoria.”

Think Local Week runs from Dec. 1 to 7. Through promotion in all participating businesses, Robinson hopes to raise the profile of local businesses.

“I think Victoria has a huge appetite for supporting local businesses,” said Robinson.

Nigel Brown, vice-president of Think Local First Victoria and owner of Ruffell & Brown Window Fashions, said local businesses create a unique, competitive shopping experience in a community.

“The biggest misconception is a lot of people think local independent businesses are not competitive in terms of pricing,” said Brown. “Not only are we competitive, but you get a lot more service and other benefits you might not get at some of the other places.”

Along with creating awareness, Think Local First will also be hosting a social media campaign, in which they will be giving away $1,000 in gift cards throughout the week via Facebook and Twitter.

In the new year, Think Local First Victoria will be launching a new loyalty card campaign.

Think Local First has over 165 businesses as members in Greater Victoria, 20 of which will be used as a test for the pilot project.

Shoppers will have one card that can be used at any of the participating businesses, where they will earn points on their purchases. Those points can then be redeemed online for products or gift cards, for example.

“It’s not something that’s normally available for smaller business,” said Brown. “It will encourage consumers to support local businesses.”

The idea came out of Portland’s Supportland program.

“We will be the first Canadian launch,” said Robinson.

For more information, visit thinklocalvictoria.com or facebook.com/ShopLocalVictoria.