The Airdrie Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the City's Economic Development team, encouraging residents to, 'show the love and putting their money where their heart is' during the holiday season. In other words, the campaign is encouraging residents to spend their money in local businesses.
Marilyne Aalhus, Executive Director of the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce said that considering the holidays are some of the busiest times for businesses, it seemed the perfect time to roll out a campaign to encourage residents to shop local.
However, social media commentary from some Airdrie residents has underlined a dilemma that many consumers face. While many want to support local small businesses, some residents have said that oftentimes smaller businesses tend to have higher prices, coupled with inflation and the ever-higher cost of living, consumers are looking for deals; and those deals more often than not tend to be found in the largest department and chain stores.
When asked if this is a challenge for smaller owner businesses, Aalhus agreed that inflation hasn't just impacted businesses, it's impacted consumers, making it a feedback loop. However, she noted that shopping locally can produce another feedback loop - one that is beneficial for all.
"There's always that challenge of trying to balance those [household] budgets. It's not a matter of everything needing to be local. But the bottom line is when you do have those opportunities, it is something that we're investing back into our tax base," she said. "It is a full circle; when you support local businesses, they can succeed as they pay property taxes, which offsets a residential tax base. Realistically, those small businesses are the ones that continue to show up and give back on multiple levels, whether that's through the local nonprofits, or it's [local] sporting teams."
Other residents have noted in their social media commentary that companies like Amazon are sometimes wrongfully targeted and criticized as a monolithic organization that makes it harder for small 'mom-and-pop' businesses to compete. However, some residents have pointed out that companies like Amazon - whose distribution center is located in Balzac, are in a sense local, in that they employ many residents from the surrounding areas.
With the recent announcement of two more businesses closing their storefronts in Airdrie, Aalhus said while it is disappointing, she underlined that each business has a different trajectory and that despite the spate of business closures there are success stories to be had.
"Fortunately, we're hearing more success stories than we are hearing of the closures. Yes, it is hard to hear about those businesses and our heart goes out to those families and their investments in Airdrie," Aaalhus said. "There's still some uncertainty out there for some of our businesses, but our business licensing or are going up, our numbers are looking on the strong side, as our community continues to grow, and residents continue to shop local."
Late last week, the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce hosted a breakfast with all levels of government, in which municipal, provincial and federal officials came to the breakfast.
"We wanted to make sure that our business communities have a really good understanding - to hear from local elected officials on how there is business support. But it was also a really important way to emphasize we need - Airdrie and our region - to get that provincial and federal support."
Aalhus underlined that Airdrie's growth is not slowing and that by some estimations it has been earmarked as the third-largest municipality in Alberta.
"We need our province and our federal government to support our growth. It was just a great opportunity to highlight that we want Airdrie to be treated equitably. We don't need more; we don't need more than other communities. We need what other communities have within our province,' she said. "And with our growth, it has been challenging for us to sustain it."
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