Otter Co-op’s management team and board of directors, including Jack Nicholson, Angie McDougall and Charlie Fox, served up blueberries and ice cream at last year’s BC Day Party. (Langley Advance Times Files)

Langley chamber strives to help businesses retain customers and build markets

Local organization encourages people to support local businesses

When’s the last time Amazon sponsored the baseball uniforms of Langley children? Has anyone heard of retailers from south of the border ponying up funds for the local hospital?

The ability for area businesses to provide support to the Langleys through such things as charity donations, sports equipment, sponsorship of events, and more is part and parcel of being part of a community that shops local, commented Jack Nicholson, past president of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.

The local business organization encourages people to support their local businesses for several reasons. Nicholson said people may not understand the circular relationship between shopping local and key factors such as employment levels, taxation, and the sense of community.

“It helps pay for some of those taxes, keeping people’s tax rates lower. Those businesses are contributing money in wages,” he said.

First and foremost, having a healthy local business sector means local employment and those people help funds circulate through the local economy.

As well, local businesses provide more than just goods and services. They help their community, whether that’s sponsoring fundraisers, donating directly to causes and events, or giving staff support to take part in charity initiatives.

“Yes, you might pay a few cents more than what you might find it online for but what are those companies doing… to support your local community,” he said.

Shopping local allows businesses to keep the doors open and provide a wider selection so people don’t have to start looking farther afield for those goods and services.

“The less shoppers you have, the less buying power your have to bring stuff in,” he noted. “You want your local business to bring in more selection. How do they do that, by having more buying power. How to they have more buying power, by you supporting them.”

Chamber members see community groups and people with causes come to them to ask for support and sponsorship.

“Langley is so close to the border,” he said, noting that the value of the Canadian dollar is a big factor in whether people shop outside the community. “I think the U.S. dollar has slowed some of that.”

A recent phenomenon arising from online ordering is showrooming. People will go into bricks and mortar stores to examine an item then go home and order it online.

“We definitely see that.

People need to ask themselves what they are sacrificing for the cheaper prices.

“What kind of customer service are you getting for that,” Nicholson commented.

If local bricks and mortar stores become part of history, people will have to travel further afield to find goods, there won’t be as much tax revenue for municipal, provincial and federal governments, non-business property owners will have to shoulder more of the tax burden, consumers will see higher tax rates since governments are in the business of raising taxes, not lowering them, and the buying public will see dwindling selection at whatever retailers do remain.

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