Let’s #ShopLocal together

carolyn_bennett_columnThis summer, I stopped by the Eglinton Way BIA’s second annual Scavenger Hunt, which takes place just around the corner from my house. It immediately brought back memories from my childhood, and our family rule to shop locally.

My mother was Eunice Denby of Eunice Denby Flowers. My father went into business with her after the Second World War. When I was born, we lived in the apartment above the store at 453 Eglinton Avenue West. When we were old enough (about 8!), my sister Jill and I were put to work at the store. Every holiday—Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day (and the Jewish holidays too!)—we reported for duty!

We were always welcomed by the local shop owners as we dashed out to buy presents for our family on our breaks! When I learned to drive and wanted to venture up far-flung places like Morgan’s at Lawrence Plaza or Yorkdale, my Dad would bark “What do they have up there, that you can’t find here?”

It’s exciting that once again our neighbours are choosing to shop where they know the vendors and the quality of the product. Many cities strongly affected by the 2008 recession have recognized the most effective way to revitalize and maintain their economies is to encourage the growth of small, local businesses. By doing so, they give their citizens more opportunities to directly invest in their own economy. When we shop in large chain-retailers, most of what we spend does not filter back into our economy.

Last summer, when we set up our campaign office on St. Clair Avenue West, our whole team fell in love with the variety and quality of the local businesses. Shops like Ecoexistence and Acappella Clothing, restaurants like Albert’s Fine Jamaican Foods, Pukka, Prop, World Class Bakers, and coffee houses like Curtis Coffee, Krave, and Zaza Espresso enriched the lives of many volunteers.

Currently Eglinton Avenue West and St. Clair Avenue West are under construction. More than ever, it’s really important for us to enjoy and support the small-businesses that define and support our country’s economy and character.

For me, shopping locally is also a chance to say thank you to business-owners like my father, and those of Beatties Boys Wear, The Fireplace Shop, and their Forest Hill Rotary Club, who all sponsored my son Jack’s North Toronto Hockey League teams.

I am so fortunate to still live in the same unique and vibrant neighbourhood where I was born. I learned as a little girl that supporting local businesses was a good thing.

Many years later, I am even more convinced that we all benefit when we shop and dine in our neighbourhoods. So let’s #shoplocal and grow our economy at the same time!