If Sidney on the Saanich Peninsula can promote itself as a Booktown, with anywhere from nine to a dozen different book stores at any given time, there’s no reason Oak Bay can’t do the same to promote its art galleries.
With seven galleries in close proximity, the owners have chosen to band together – rather than compete – to help each other, and surrounding businesses, attract customers.
The group has a good start by just agreeing to work together – pooling resources for advertising and sending a consistent message to consumers from their individual shops.
Maintaining diversity in their galleries helps bring art lovers to the area, and other businesses can help keep them coming back by providing interesting products as well as the excellent customer service for which Oak Bay stores are known.
Of note is Oak Bay council’s support for the effort without question.
There was no debate, or worry that council would be seen as supporting one type of business over the other, only the clear vision that if we all work together toward a common goal, Oak Bay can achieve a vibrant, evolving and busy core – something that even the city of Victoria has found challenging in recent economic times.
The spin-off from this new approach should spread further than the Village.
As Nigel Hayes, owner of Side Street Studio, pointed out, many local artists rely on the income they receive from galleries to survive.
As their income increases, so will their spending. With support from local art galleries and local buyers, we can hope the artists, in turn, will support other local businesses, purchasing not only their art supplies here, but their groceries, clothing and other daily necessities as well.
While this approach is not for every business, it can certainly succeed for the galleries.
Working together, using innovative ideas and advertising to help spread your message and supporting those around you will go far to help all of the businesses in Oak Bay.