Buy Local campaigns a lifeline for struggling small businesses in Vaudreuil-Soulanges

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When so-called “non-essential” stores were forced to close in the last COVID-19 lockdown, Montrealers in need of mittens, clothing, housewares, books, toys, gifts, or other goods had no choice but to shop online. Now that local merchants can reopen their doors and take down the do-not-sell signs, will local buyers hoof it to the store, or just keep on clicking the buy buttons online?

There’s no question which choice creates more jobs and more wealth for our community. Développement Vaudreuil-Soulanges officials noted that for every $100 spent in a locally owned business, $68 ends up recirculated within the community, compared to just $43 if the same amount was spent at a big chain store.

Several Buy Local campaigns are now in the works to spotlight small businesses and try and keep more of our dollars in our community, including a few online directories where businesses can promote their offerings for free or at little cost. There’s Achat Local VS , spearheaded by Développement Vaudreuil-Soulanges, for example, and Le Panier Bleu , a French-only directory of Quebec businesses promoted by the provincial government.

There’s also I Love Vaudreuil-Soulanges , a bilingual directory site and social media campaign developed by Dany Boucher of Éloqui , a digital marketing agency in Vaudreuil-Dorion. Boucher built the site after the pandemic hit to do his part to support the local economy, he said, and runs the site on a volunteer basis.

“Buying local creates a sense of belonging. You feel near the person,” Boucher said. “Here in Vaudreuil-Soulanges it’s easy to feel near to business owners.”

Another Buy Local project that has taken off since the pandemic is the Marché Écolocal , an online grocery co-op offering over 1000 products ranging from fruits and vegetables to meat, eggs, bakery items, and even beer, from almost 60 producers in Vaudreuil-Soulanges. The site offers both pickup and home delivery.

There are encouraging signs that the Buy Local movement isn’t just a marketing trend. Some brick-and-mortar businesses are reporting an uptick in customers who are consciously looking for ways to support local businesses through this challenging time.

Heidi Niderost and Gwen Giberson, who co-own and operate the natural foods store Que de Bonnes Choses on Hudson’s Main Street, noted there do seem to be more new faces in the store since the pandemic. Many of these new customers say they are making a point of choosing to shop local.

“For us, we’ve always been about local, Niderost said. “We want to help smaller producers grow and keep local businesses alive.”

After their organic vegan bistro had to shut down when restaurants were ordered to close, Que de Bonnes Choses repurposed the restaurant space to act as an extension of the existing boutique, allowing more space to bring in products from other local businesses. Popular new items include several products from neighbouring Main Street businesses, including fresh-cut flowers from Oh Fleurs! and sourdough bread from Furley.

“Que de Bonnes Choses exists because the community cares,” Niderost said. “Hudson really looks after its own.”