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Give Local Food and Gifts This Christmas

The holiday season is upon us and if you haven’t finished your shopping, now is the perfect time to support local artisans, small businesses and your local Ontario food and beverage producers. Looking for the perfect hostess gift, or need to fill the space under your fresh-cut Christmas tree? Check everyone off your list with beautifully crafted Ontario-made goods and specialty food items.

When you choose to support local, small businesses you can find special, unique gifts while enjoying a more distinctive and personal shopping experience. Need more reasons to think ‘local’ first? Here are four more major benefits to shopping local:

Strengthen your local economy 

Studies show that each dollar you spend at an independent business returns 3 times more money to your local economy than a dollar spent at a large chain. Significantly more of your money goes back into your community because it is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of your town or city. Head to your local gift shop, holiday artisan markets and farmer’s markets to find that perfect gift!

Reduce environmental impact

Locally owned businesses make more local purchases, in-turn, requiring less transportation, creating a much small carbon footprint for goods sold. Small businesses also typically set up shop in a city or town’s core as opposed to the outskirts which can cause increased sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, and pollution. Skip the big box store and opt for small and locally owned options this Christmas to be sure to reserve your spot on Santa’s nice list.

Strengthen & grow your community 

Local businesses are owned by people who live in your community and are therefor more invested in your community’s overall future. The places where we shop, eat and have fun make our community unique, and one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of your city or town. When you get to know the people behind the business, you become more invested and enjoy a connection you would not otherwise have.

Local tourism also benefits because when people travel they tend to seek out designations that offer interesting, unique experiences and one-of-a-kind dining and shopping options.

Give a gift that comes from a local retailer and give back to your community. It’s win-win!

Local doesn’t have to mean expensive

There is a common misconception that shopping and eating local is always more expensive. While this may be true for some things, some times, it isn’t always so!

But this is also why the holiday season may be the perfect time to visit your local shops and ‘local food’ restaurants. We often budget a little more at this time of year, so why not use that money for quality over quantity?

We all want to find those unique, special gifts for friends and family, and often will splurge  when it comes to buying beautiful, handmade chocolates or jewellery for someone else. On your way to a family celebration, pick up a fresh-baked cake or pie at an artisanal bakery instead of the supermarket or bring a local VQA wine or Ontario craft beer to dinner. Skip the Starbucks’ mass-produced mugs (sorry Starbucks, but you’ll be ok) and buy from your local potters guild instead.

Check your local shops first, and see what Christmas goodies they have in store.

In addition to all these wonderful benefits, shopping local also creates fair wage jobs, you will probably receive more personalized and better customer service and you have access to special products that aren’t available at chain locations. Trust us, friends and family will appreciate a unique, thoughtful, and locally purchased gift much more than a common, mass produced item purchased at a big box store.

So, when you head out shopping this December, we hope you’ll shop local first. And, as a reward, you should probably get yourself something nice too!

Happy holiday shopping!

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