What is the value of shopping locally?
Plenty for the greater community – and starting Saturday there’ll be even more rewards for shoppers.
The Think Local First program asks local consumers to allocate a portion of their spending to independent local businesses. Starting June 27, those shoppers can also sign up to receive rewards as a thank you.
“The Think Local First Rewards program helps independent businesses reach out to customers who want to put their money where their mouth is and support a thriving local economy,” explains Dig This Oak Bay owner Elizabeth Cull.
Saturday – Join the Shift Day – is designed to boost consumer awareness about the Ten Percent Shift and the brand new Think Local First Rewards.
The Ten Per Cent Shift asks people to shift 10 per cent of their household spending to local, independent businesses. Not for everything – it’s just not possible to purchase everything locally – but to start with 10 per cent of spending.
“Making as little as 10 per cent of your purchases from locally owned businesses can give a tremendous boost to Victoria’s economy. By working together, locally owned businesses have created a multi-business loyalty program where the customer can gather points at one business and redeem them at another,” Cull explains. “Plus, it creates a network of local businesses that can work together to provide better services to all our customers. As a small business, I just couldn’t do this alone.”
Twenty-six businesses are currently participating, including Buddie’s Toys, in Oak Bay and Sidney, with more joining weekly.
How does it work?
Each time consumers shop at a participating local business they earn ‘merits’ which can be redeemed for local products or services from any of the businesses on the program. Consumers can pick up a TLF Rewards Card at any participating business or download the app. The app and website features a map showing all the independent businesses and keeps track of how many merits have been earned.
The program is powered by Supportland, a Portland-based organization whose mission is ‘to strengthen neighbourhood business districts that lead to thriving local economies.’
Simply visit Supportland.com to sign up and create an account with your first name, email and password. Once enrolled, start collecting.
Pick up a Think Local First (TLF) card at a participating business and add it to your account, then give the number to store clerks when making a purchase. Download the Supportland app and “check in” when you make a purchase to let the staff know who you are; or add your cell phone number to your account and give that to the clerk.
You’ll also receive an additional 15 merits the first time you buy from a new business.
Sign into your account and check your “wallet” to see how many merits you have, then you can spend them on rewards from local businesses.
This Saturday, businesses will have stations to help people get started with their card or download the app. The Q will also be on location at Capitol Iron downtown, signing people up and giving away prizes.
Why Think Locally?
According to the Think Local First group, which includes businesses throughout Greater Victoria, for every $100 spent locally, $68 stays in this community. That compares to only $43 for stores based elsewhere.
Where does the difference come from? Locally owned businesses return much of their revenue to the local economy, and often create more local jobs, Think Local First notes. Distinctive businesses also offer consumers a wide range of products and help sustain walkable town centres, reducing sprawl, car use, habitat loss and pollution.