The political economy of consumerism in Sask
Not really, kind of though.
Article: Eman Bare – News Writer
The holiday season is a busy time for most, and an even busier time for retailers across the province. Between extended mall hours, seasonal hires, and higher daily financial targets, there are usually large amounts of pressure on businesses to perform during December.
In recent years, there has been an influx in the number of locally-owned businesses opening up Saskatchewan. Although bigger retailers such as Marshalls and Target are opening up stores here, some believe that the culture of shopping overall is changing in this province.
Local storeowner Tara Bokitch says that she has noticed a shift in the overall attitude of people shopping in Saskatchewan.
“I have noticed a change in people supporting local business. In the community where my shop is I believe that there is a larger push for people to shop local than that of other areas in the city,” states Bokitch.
She is the owner of Solitude and Soul, a home décor business located in the city’s Cathedral Village neighborhood. Bokitch says that more local businesses means more money in the pockets of Saskatchewanians.
“I believe that the increase in locally-owned business is great for our province, as it demonstrates strong leadership, and it creates jobs for other Saskatchewan residents.”
Additionally, she says that she believes a main reason people are beginning to open up their own stores is because people are choosing to step outside the box and develop their passion into thriving businesses.
One storeowner, who did exactly this, is Chelsea O’Connell. O’Connell is the co-owner of three successful businesses in Saskatchewan, all of which have opened up in the past five years. She says what is hurting small businesses right now is not necessarily bigger companies, but rather online shopping.
“We do compete heavily with online retailers, mostly from the United States; and as peoples lives get busier and online shopping becomes more convenient more people are shopping online during the Christmas season.”
She says with the change in consumerism over the past decade, local storeowners are competing not only with each other and bigger stores, but a global market.
O’Connell first began her business with her partner five years ago, and says that since opening Coda, her first store, she has had the opportunity to work and collaborate with other local entrepreneurs.
“When you buy from a local business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You are helping a little girl get ballet lessons, a little boy play soccer,” says O’Connell.
She states that local businesses give back to the community in a way that online stores and bigger companies cannot. Her own community-doings include voluntarily running Saskatchewan’s first-ever fashion week, which brought to the stage emerging Saskatchewan artists. Other local storeowners offer charity fashion shows, coach basketball teams, and run community skate parks.
“We do these things not as a marketing scheme, but because we genuinely care about our community and the people supporting our business”, says O’Connell.
Although new stores are emerging frequently, a long-time business in Cathedral Village recently announced it was shutting its doors. This holiday season, Buy The Book announced that it is closing down after 18 years of business. This had many Reginians wondering if lack of business was the cause. The owner, Chris Prpich, however, reassures his customers that this is not the case.
“I’ve been doing this for 18 years, and I’ve got to do everything I wanted to do with the business. I felt that I took it as far as I could, and I just want a new challenge.”
Prpich also added that business was as strong as it had ever been for his bookstore.
Although it is uncertain whether the recent trend of shopping local is permanent, what is evident is that Saskatchewan entrepreneurs are currently creating enough of an impact to be competing with bigger retailers.