Published On: Tuesday, 28 November 2017

You Never Know What You’ll Find By Looking Local

You Never Know What You’ll Find By Looking Local

- Catherine Holt is the CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. 250.383.7191,

GREATER VICTORIA - At this point in December, everyone who has Christmas shopping to do is entrenched in their preferred annual pattern: a) I finished all my shopping in October; b) I feel like this is going on forever and I still have 18 presents to buy; c) let me know when it’s December 24th so I can start.

So for everyone other than the October over-achievers, here are a few thoughts to help you reach the finish line.

Think Local First is working hard to remind everyone of the benefits of buying local. They promote that locally owned businesses recycle much of their revenue back into the local economy; they create more local jobs and in some sectors better wages and benefits; create one-of-a-kind, distinctive businesses that offer a wide range of products and help to sustain walkable town centers which reduce sprawl, car use, habitat loss and pollution.

The Chamber agrees buying local is critical to our economy. Check out our member directory on our website for a wide array of great local businesses. The Chamber itself only exists because of the support of local businesses that are our members. We too are a local enterprise that provides jobs, recycles its revenue and helps contribute unique events and services to our community.

Taking local to the next level, the “Island Good” pilot project was unveiled at the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Conference in Nanaimo last month. The double meaning of the title, created by Hot House Marketing, is thought provoking and re-enforces the message to shop local.

Three Island grocers, Thrifty Foods, Country Grocers and Quality Foods, are working together to run a six-month project branding island-made merchandise and produce in their stores as “Island Good” to test if it will increase sales for those goods.

Finally, an essential part of local shopping is local transportation. Free and ample parking is a benefit of our local malls and a challenge in our very busy downtown. Last Christmas season was particularly frustrating, so to help ease the strain, The Downtown Victoria Business Association has published an Arrive and Shop Toolkit describing different transportation modes and services at the following link.

It includes DVBA’s useful interactive parking map showing 16 parkades, nine customer parking lots, more than 40 surface parking lots, and over 1,000 on-street parking spaces in or within a short walk of Downtown Victoria.

And there are even more locally-owned transportation options that can make life easier. Of course, taking a Victoria or Yellow cab solves your parking problem. You hop on a bus, rent a van or coach from Wilson’s Transportation or a luxurious limo from L.A. Limousines to take you and your holiday party guests out on the town.

And if you want to experience two extremes, you can go for a Tesla Tour in an electric car then a horse-drawn Tally-Ho Carriage Tour – both carbon emission free.

Our downtown is busy for all the right reasons – interesting stores, great restaurants and lots of residents – which is much better than the alternative experienced by so many city centres.

So pull on that Santa hat and make Christmas shopping fun by getting off Amazon and out the door to explore. You never know what you might find.