Push to shop local is working, Winnipeg business owners say

Winnipeg business owners asked the community to shop local amid coronavirus lockdowns this holiday season and it seems many did.

Honey producer Brad Hogg, owner of Faith Apiaries, typically sells more than 50 per cent of his products at local gift and farmers markets, but this year they all got cancelled.

“There’s been no playbook for 2020, so you just have to throw things at the wall and what sticks is what we go with,” he said. “We go to the market because customers are there, so now we go to their home because they’re there.”

Hogg was worried about his business heading into the holiday season, especially after a slow November, but to his surprise, the community stepped up and started placing more orders than he could have imagined.

“We went into December, orders skyrocketed,” Hogg said.

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Read more: Manitoba ends restrictions on Sunday and holiday shopping hours

Amber Nemeth, owner of Winnipeg clothing brand HayMad & Co., found herself in a similar situation.

Nemeth stocked up for the Christmas rush, but became anxious once the second wave of the coronavirus hit and Manitoba went into lockdown.

“Panic did set it, ‘What am I going to do with all this stuff?’” she said.

The anxiety didn’t last long.

Nemeth said she soon felt the positive impact of Manitoba’s commitment to shop local.

She also signed up as a vendor on new, local websites like goodlocal.ca, which is a one-stop online shop similar to Amazon, but for Manitoba-based businesses.

Read more: Website aimed at supporting local Winnipeg businesses overwhelmed with orders

“We were busy. I had my husband, my brother-in-law, my mom, out doing deliveries because we just couldn’t keep up,” Nemeth said.  “It was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude from our city.”

Tara Garcia, co-owner of herbal skin care company Mama Pacha, said local campaigns helped her as well.

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She believes the shift to shop close to home will continue, even after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

“I felt a real change,” Garcia said.

“While the dollar value might not make up for previous sales years, the push to local I think has really forced people to change their thinking.”

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‘Please come support local businesses,’ uncertainty continues in downtown Winnipeg – Sep 14, 2020

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