Photo: Submitted

Photo: Submitted

Chamber launches South Kootenay shopping bag initiative

#ThinkLocalFirst Shopping Bag Campaign kicks off this month.

Submitted by the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce

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The busiest shopping season of the year is upon us, and the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce is rolling out a fun initiative to get people filling their bags with local items.

The #ThinkLocalFirst Shopping Bag Campaign kicks off this month with businesses throughout the South Kootenay stocked with branded, environmentally- friendly fabric bags. Bear Country Kitchen, Feather Your Nest, House of Paws, and Olea Floral in Rossland and Coast 2 Coast Clothing Co., Good Stuff, Kootenay Made Co., and The Wooden Hanger in Trail are some of the businesses taking part and spreading the word to shop locally.

Participating stores will provide free reusable bags to select shoppers beginning Nov. 24th, explains Danielle Peet of Wild Smile Events, who is spearheading November’s #thinklocalfirst initiative on behalf of the Chamber.

“I feel like we all kind of shop at the same stores and forget that there are other options in town, so we’re trying to provide encouragement to visit new places while getting a little bit of a bonus,” she adds. “The campaign is an opportunity to promote these locations and get some more people into their stores for the holiday season.”

Inspired by the Castlegar & District Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 shopping bag initiative, Executive Director Erika Krest worked with Chamber member VH Sport in Genelle to design the bag, which features the Chamber and #thinklocalfirst logos.

The fun holiday campaign aligns with many municipalities’ mandates to decrease or eliminate single-use plastics, and bags slung over the shoulders of participating shoppers well after the holidays will remind people year-round to support local businesses.

Many businesses, such as Coast 2 Coast, are enthusiastic about bringing attention to local options and excited to get behind the campaign.

“There’s a need for kids’ clothes in the area, but the options are very limited. We have a lot of people still coming in saying, ‘oh, I didn’t know you were here’ or ‘we didn’t know you sold snow pants or boots,’” says Melissa Cackette, store supervisor. “We’re hoping that participating in this fun initiative will get the word out that we’re here and stocked with great options for the whole family.”

Coast 2 Coast carries a wide range of clothing, shoes, and accessories for all ages, with online shopping also available. Many area retailers have added online store components to their websites or offer curbside pickup or delivery, making it easier and more convenient than ever to support local businesses.

“I’ve always felt shopping locally is super important because that’s what keeps our community alive and well,” she adds. “If we want a thriving downtown core, I think we have to support the small businesses that are owned and operated by residents of our area.”

Developing Minds Think Circular Economy

In addition to the shopping bag initiative, Peet and the Chamber are currently connecting with youth-focused organizations to promote awareness of the circular economic model.

They’re now sourcing materials and liaising with community groups to educate the region’s youngest residents on the benefits of spending money in the South Kootenay region.

“At this point, our younger population may only interact with businesses when they solicit for donations to support their sports teams or school fundraising efforts,” says Krest. “And that’s great; local businesses provide the majority of charitable donations for causes like that. But it’s never too early to explain how purchasing at locally- owned businesses keeps money in the community and supports employment and long-term opportunities.”

Chamber Stories is a monthly feature that informs the business community on available resources; encourages businesses to take advantage of Chamber member benefits; and celebrates the diversity of South Kootenay enterprise.

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