The Debate Rages on Big Box vs Small Biz
There are clearly two distinct camps to the argument about shopping local vs shopping at the big box stores and chain restaurants. Those who are ambivalent and those who clearly have drawn their line in the sand. I stand with my feet planted in both camps. It is not the popular opinion. I understand that Amazon is not going away. This was clearly evident by the 5 massive warehouses they are building just outside my city limits. Each one takes up an acre.
They have the market cornered on shipping, cheap goods and 24 hour access. To believe we will ever make a systemic change to woo people away from them is simply naive. They are here to stay. It is easy to say "shop local" what is harder is understanding the complex web of economics and geopolitics that go along with it. We do not manufacture goods at big scale for a competitive price. It would take generations to undo what we have done. We have shifted manufacturing of goods to countries where labour is cheap and we can turn a blind eye to what we are doing to people and the planet in the process. It is all out of our field of vision. We have been conditioned to consume. You can see this at any mall on any given day. What could we possibly need during month 15 of a global pandemic? Does not stop us consuming to make ourselves feel good. The big bad box stores have us trained. Planned obsolescence. You need that new shiny phone, that new color of jeans, those slightly different runners. Mostly because you deeply care what others think about you still using 'last seasons' goods.
Where we can make an impact for our Canadian economy, provide jobs for the future, create more Canadian independence, reduce the deficient and create safe and fair working conditions is by investing in Canadian small businesses. The "big boys" are not interested in the small business owner who hand makes products in small batches slowly, with their heart and hands. Big business wants to do one thing gobble the little dots like the game of pac man.
Let's leave the beautiful things, whether it is a handmade cup, a local independent restaurant or small batch organic dog shampoo to the family owned Canadian small businesses. Let's change the narrative from "shop local" to "buy Canadian". Doing so provides jobs for future generations and keeps them here in Canada.
So when you see an amazon package on my front door, know it has something boring and necessary like a VGA cord or card reader. What you probably won't notice is the other boxes from family owned Canadian small businesses with products that bring me joy every time I use them. I buy beautiful Canadian gifts for those I love to spread that joy a little farther. Each product has a story to tell.
Trina Plamondon is the Founder & CEO of Oh Canada Market an online marketplace for family owned Canadian small businesses. As a certified project management professional, business analyst and wine professional, she brings together Canadian businesses for real impact. You can catch her weekly Column “Just Bizness” via her website.