The South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce is joining together with dozens of other chambers of commerce across Canada in encouraging people to shop local on July 25, in a nationwide event dubbed The Big Spend.
The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt by everyone to varying degrees, but none perhaps more so than small business owners. While major chains can recoup their losses or, in the case of companies like Amazon, turn a profit, locally owned and operated stores and restaurants rarely have that type of monetary cushion.
In an effort to ensure small businesses survive to thrive after the pandemic ends, chambers of commerce from across the country are joining together in organizing The Big Spend. This effort is intended to inject millions of dollars into the economy, and keep the lights on and rent paid for small businesses all over Canada.
Locally, the effort to spread the word about this event is being led by Brad Severin, the executive director of the South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce. Severin has held the position since March, and believes he’s the youngest chamber executive director in the province at just 21.
“I’ve been in the 100 Mile area my whole life. I was born in Kamloops and I’ve lived here ever since,” Severin says. “I’m trying to increase the chamber’s interaction with the community and youth engagement, and make the chamber a real voice for the citizens of the South Cariboo.”
To do this, Severin said the chamber has been doing a weekly checkup with the local business community, and picking one to promote on their social media. This allows them to show off how locals are supporting the economy through COVID-19 and the adaptations and innovations of local businesses in dealing with the pandemic.
COVID-19 has hit 100 Mile House hard, Severin confirmed, and he and the chamber are doing their best to help those who really need it.
Severin said that since taking the job he’s most enjoyed the chance to interact with members of the business community and form relationships with them he otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to cultivate. Overall, he said he’s not had many serious challenges, as he has a great board of directors backing him and that it’s been a privilege to work with them and gain experience.
Watching businesses struggle due to the shutdown has been the hardest thing he’s dealt with, which is in part why he’s promoting The Big Spend. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to inject $100 million into the Canadian economy in a single day.
“It’s been shown that when people buy local and spend their money in local, small, independently-owned businesses the money remains in the community,” explains Severin. “So The Big Spend is an avenue for us to generate business and almost five times the revenue than if people were to spend at large chain competitors.
“It’s said that for every $100 spent at a local business, $63 is circulated back into the local economy, which is something we cannot ignore.”
During The Big Spend on Saturday, July 25, Severin is encouraging the people of 100 Mile House to go out to a local business of your choice and purchase a product, service, or food. You can spend as much or as little as you want, but he then asks you submit your name and location on The Big Spend’s website (https://thebigspend.com/) so that the impact of the spending can be mapped across Canada.
Severin says that people are also welcome to share their story on social media by using the hashtag #TheBigSpend, adding that there is no need to list how much you spent. He notes that it would be really nice to see locals engaging on social media that way, and even linking to the South Cariboo Business Chamber of Commerce on Facebook or Instagram.
“There’s nothing better to do than go out and support your local business owners; these are people who are your friends, your neighbours, and people who have been in the community for so long that they deserve our support,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how much you spend or where you go: so long as you’re supporting a local business, you’re involved, and that’s a great thing.”