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Steve Hewitt from Backcountry believes the high price of fuel and the push for keeping money within the community are the reasons for the store’s success this year.
“I’d like to think that people are thinking about where they’re spending their dollars, and I think a lot more people are spending those dollars closer to home.”
That, combined with high gas prices deterring shoppers from travelling too far outside of the city, is keeping money in Fort St. John. Hewitt adds there is an additional benefit for those shopping at local, small businesses: better service.
“Fort St. John being the town that it is, there are a lot of small businesses, both in industry and retail, and I think a lot of people appreciate the service that they do get from smaller stores and stores that are owner operated.”
Central Emporium is also feeling the love this holiday season – its first as a business – as Tina Almond believes residents are shopping at home first, before branching elsewhere.
“I think as more stores open up in Fort St. John, people are able to do more of their shopping here, and I think there’s a lot more people that are shopping locally before they head out of town.”
For her, the key to keeping that trend going is bringing in “big city” products, that you can’t necessarily find here. For her business that means natural, organic items, but for others it could mean bringing products in that customers are normally willing to drive elsewhere for and would be happier to buy in town. Product availability plus the benefits of keeping spending in the community are what she thinks will continue to help local businesses.
“People are realizing that the local businesses are the ones that support all the local sports and give when there’s a fundraiser, and that money spent here stays here. I think that message is getting through.”
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