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National campaign aims to promote shopping local

The weekend of August 28 to 30 will be known as Canada United Weekend, aiming to promote shopping at local, Canadian businesses.

The initiative sees collaboration between chambers of commerce and all levels of government across the country. Peter Chirico, President and CEO of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce (NBDCC) says that the weekend represents a wider vision for the month of August.

“We’re encouraging all residents of Canada, the province, the city – to shop local. That includes shopping at our malls, shopping at our businesses, our restaurants, our hotels – all of those things for the month of August,” Chirico said, adding that the recent American tariffs set on Canadian goods further underlines the importance of shopping local.

North Bay Mayor Al McDonald signed an official proclamation recognizing the weekend as Canada United Weekend. Chirico says that he hopes that the support will be felt by local retailers.

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“That means getting out and concentrating on buying local, buying Canadian and making sure we’re sending a strong message to retailers that we’re behind them…we’re going to solve our problems in our country,” he said.

Chirico says that the pandemic has forced many North Bay businesses to get creative in order to adapt. He says that establishing an online presence is of the utmost importance for retailers who wish to stay relevant.

“We’ve seen a lot of our businesses in North Bay that now have a superb online presence and their products are Canadian-made and they’re sourcing them locally,” Chirico explained, urging people to try and avoid using larger, multinational online retailers.

If businesses in the area are struggling to establish an online presence, Chirico says that there are resources available to them.

“There’s assistance available through the business centre. At City Hall…we’ll provide training in our Recovery Assistance Program which will help people understand what that digital presence means and how they can take advantage of it,” he said.

Chirico adds that the importance of an online presence may become more apparent in the coming months.

“There’s always the possibility that we go into another lockdown if we see a spike in cases. If we see any of these things in the ‘next wave’ that’s being predicted, it’s going to be more important to have that online presence,” he said.

Stage 3 reopening has allowed many businesses to reopen in the area. At the Northgate Shopping Centre, Jordanna Grant, Marketing Director for the mall, says that nearly all businesses have seen increases in sales and traffic, with little complaints from shoppers.

Despite the hardships that the pandemic has brought on for businesses, Chirico says that he sees a silver lining in it.

“Sometimes out of doom and gloom comes some brightness. I think as a country, we’ve had an opportunity to reflect on what we do, how we do it and where we do it. It’s all too easy to go online, buy something and send it to your home address not knowing where it came from,” he explained. “I think that Canadians – as a general rule – will pay a little bit more if they have to source it Canadian”

In addition to the weekend of August 28 being recognized as Canada United Day, a social media campaign will be run throughout the month. Five cents from every post using #CanadaUnited will be donated to the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund, which will assist small businesses purchase personal protective equipment and other safety measures to help them reopen.

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