The following is from the opening speech that Gayle Robinson, President of ShopLocalVictoria, gave at the annual ShopLocalVictoria Annual General Meeting in May 2013:
“ShopLocalVictoria is a movement. It is a non-profit society dedicated to educating the public on the importance of shopping local, while raising the profile of businesses that are local, making it easier to shop local.
During these tough economic times we are facing increasing challenges from
- online shopping
- US border shopping
- out of town corporate chains
- and a tighter economy.
Two to three times as much money stays in our local economy when you purchase from locally owned businesses. At the end of the day our money doesn’t get sent back to head office—it stays and gets spent here.
I had this vision that as one business, I could do a lot but together we could do SO much more. We need every single storefront to be full and thriving. We need unique stores with owners that live in, and are invested in, the Greater Victoria Area. More importantly I was born and raised in Victoria and I wanted to be part of giving back to making our city stronger.
I researched Shop Local sites for Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle to see what they had done to revive their local economies. I contacted Ken Kelly of the DVBA and found support there. Next I contacted 10 core downtown businesses, Brown’s Florist, Dig This, Monk Office, Capital Iron and more and we started to lay the foundation of SLV. I love that Brian Henry of Ocean River and I, as competitors, worked together… that’s the spirit of SLV, we need each other.
The DVBA gave us $1000 in seed money to create a logo, rack cards and more. Then we started talking about SLV to other businesses. There was a lot of excitement, many businesses were encouraged that something grass roots was finally happening. We quickly outgrew the DVBA boundaries and became a Victoria wide organization… from Sooke to Sidney, from Esquimalt to Oak Bay.
There are so many great stories that have come out of SLV. For example, Al Hasham of Maximum Furniture and Maximum Express told me that they had a large furniture sale in the works from a guy moving to Australia… but they were in danger of losing the sale to a Vancouver company as they were missing 1 piece of the package. Al found that Capital Iron had it and called Mike Black to see if he could buy the piece from him at full retail or more. Mike told Al to just come by and pick it up… and replace it when he could… and Al got the sale. A great story of 2 businesses working together.
Dig This had their Christmas party at Chateau Victoria, Robinson’s had theirs at Spinnakers. Just before Christmas my washing machine gave up the ghost. Shop Local Victoria member Stockli Maytag helped me out with a new one and I was happy to support them. I now look at the list of SLV members when it’s time to make a purchase and I encourage you all to do the same when it makes sense for you. If even 10% of our dollars are spent at locally-owned services and shops, it will make a big difference.
We are lucky here in Victoria to be building on a great base of people who are already aware of this – I think that’s why we’ve struck such a chord in the community. And word is spreading – we constantly thank our customers for shopping locally and their response is always positive.
We are now at over 100 members with more joining every day. If you look around the room tonight, you’ll see how many people are passionate about Victoria, and this is only our first year. Make a point to get to know someone new! After tonight, if every owner tells two new businesses about Shop Local Victoria, we will see this wonderful movement grow exponentially. Think of what a great message it would send if every single locally-owned shop in the peninsula proudly displayed the SLV sticker: “We care about Victoria because we are Victoria.
ShopLocalVictoria makes sense, and couldn’t have started at a better time. I believe we can significantly impact our local economy…. One person and one purchase at a time.”