While travelling, we love supporting local businesses and communities. It allows us to truly experience a place and learn more about its culture, while giving back at the same time.
Now that travel is on hold, we have shifted our focus to our own community here in Vancouver. It is more important than ever before for us to focus on local businesses who rely on their communities to keep them up and running.
Being mindful of where our dollars are being spent is important. The difference between supporting local and global businesses is investing in relationships and a community versus simply buying goods from across the globe.
As we have been supporting businesses around the area, we’ve made connections with owners and creators who we would otherwise never have encountered. Especially in such a big city like Vancouver, it has been wonderful to see the community spirit grow over the last few months.
Making these meaningful connections has been truly humbling and has made us even more passionate about encouraging people to support local!
Why Support Local?
Small businesses are at the heart of our communities. They provide jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs. They play an important role in strengthening local cash flow, neighbourhoods and our overall economy.
Local businesses are also committed to their community. Even though they are feeling the financial strain and the future is unknown, they still make every effort to serve their clients, neighbours and friends.
So we want to encourage you to support your local community during this time. It can be as simple as visiting a local restaurant, coffee shop or brewery – although there are many other things you can do too!
To help you find ways to make a positive impact on local communities during these difficult times, we have put together the following list:
Eat at Local Restaurants
One of the best ways to support communities is to eat at local restaurants. It doesn’t only help the locals but it also gives you a more authentic experience.
If indoor dining or even patio dining isn’t an option, most restaurants, bars, cafes and bakeries can also deliver.
Because many delivery services charge restaurants high delivery fees, one of the best ways to order take-out is through the restaurant’s own website. That way, all money goes directly to the business without an external delivery service decreasing their profit and with it, impacting on our support.
In Vancouver, businesses have started their own platform called Fromto: Fromto is a no-fee delivery platform for Vancouver-based restaurants.
Buy Products at Local Markets or Stores
Instead of heading to one of the big supermarkets or ordering your products from Amazon, you can find some great options available near you, while supporting your local producer!
By visiting a farmers’ market, you are directly supporting local farmers and businesses. We love visiting farmers’ markets, as they often feature local producers with fresh, unique products.
It’s an excellent way to support local farmers, as well as small businesses who are just starting out.
Local Breweries and Wineries
Most breweries and wineries are locally owned and need our support now more than ever! You can purchase wines and beers straight from their websites and some even offer virtual tastings as well.
Just Google “virtual wine tasting + city” or “virtual beer tasting + city” and you’ll find plenty of options!
Stores that Support Local Artists
In some cities, you can find stores that only feature products from local creators. The goods range from postcards to beauty products.
It’s worth perusing the (virtual) shelves here first before heading to one of the bigger chains.
In Vancouver, The Nooks offers local independent creators a space to showcase their products. You can either buy in-store or online!
Go on a Staycation
Even though you cannot travel far, you can still enjoy a staycation near you. Instead of opting for a big chain hotel, why not stay in locally owned accommodation?
It often provides a more unique, personalised experience and most locals can provide excellent inside info on the surrounding area.
Airbnb is a great place to start, as it gives you a list of potential places that you’ve never even heard of.
Some places have their own website where you can book your staycation, so all your dollars will go directly to the locals. While others only use Airbnb for bookings, as it gives them an easy way to offer their accommodation without the hassle of creating a website. Don’t write these off immediately, even if Airbnb takes a cut.
In Vancouver, why stay at a Fairmont, when you can stay at this amazing designer treehouse?
Don’t ignore hotels entirely though, as they often employ many locals. When looking for a hotel to stay at, keep an eye out for how the hotel supports local businesses.
Do they work together with local providers on things like food, drinks, art, activities and products etc.?
In Vancouver, Skwachàys Lodge is Canada’s first indigenous arts hotel. The rooms were designed by local indigenous artists and the hotel even features an Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery, which showcases indiginous art by local artists.
Buy a Gift Card
If you don’t feel comfortable visiting a restaurant or beauty salon, you can still show your support by buying a gift card.
A lot of bars, restaurants and other service providers are promoting gift card purchases right now, as they provide a quick injection of cash that helps them cover staffing and bills.
Spread the Love: Leave a Review
It has never been more important than now to leave a review on Google, Yelp, Airbnb or Uber. Even if you’re not in a financial position to make a purchase, reviews can give businesses a big credibility boost without you having to spend any money.
Another way to spread the love is by featuring your favourite businesses on social media. Even if your following only consists of family and friends, a shoutout goes a long way!
Support Local Activities and Excursions (When Possible)
Tour operators, local guides and businesses that offer tourism activities have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
One way to help is to explore your own backyard and book local activities (as long as it is safe to do so).
Since the start of the pandemic, we have focused all our travel on exploring in and around Vancouver and have discovered and experienced so many new places and things that we otherwise would never have encountered. You’d be surprised what you can find in your own backyard!
Some great activities to enjoy while still maintaining a safe social distance are things like kayaking, canoeing and biking. Support local businesses by renting your equipment.
What better way to discover a side of your community that you’ve never seen than by hiring a local guide to take you to all the unique spots in the area?
You’d be surprised how much you don’t know about and it’s a chance to see your town or city through new eyes.
Some guides can be booked for in-person walks, while others offer a virtual experience.
There are many farms and artisanal businesses that need your help. Many places have stores and provide tours of their farm or business, as well as special, seasonal events.
Research and find a nearby agri-tourism spot to visit and keep an eye out for the next tulip- or sunflower-festival or apple- or pumpkin-picking experience.
Fraser Valley has the excellent, self-guided Circle Farm Tour. It features unique agri-tourism destinations found in the Fraser Valley.
With many local, indiginous businesses relying on tourism to survive, it is extremely important to support these businesses right now.
Visit your local tourism board’s website, and if it exists, your local indiginous tourism website, too, to discover indiginous travel experiences.
Sample food at indiginous-operated restaurants; join indiginous guides on their traditional territories; or buy unique, memorable items from talented artisans and craftsmen.
For Vancouverites, Indiginous Tourism BC has a wealth of information to get you started!
I hope these tips have inspired you to get out into your community and support local businesses. I’d love to hear how you have been engaging with your local community and if you have found other ways to help… Let me know in the comments below!