Shoppers asked to #BuyCloseBy
By Darren Lum
Published July 3, 2018
Two days before the Canada Day long weekend, the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce launched the #BuyCloseBy campaign and invited guests such as Amanda Virtanen with Haliburton County’s tourism department and representatives from area associations to its office in Haliburton.
#BuyCloseBy is a loyalty program that will increase the public’s awareness of local shops, services and businesses; engage consumers on keeping dollars in the area; and educate them on how spending locally is beneficial for everyone.
Chamber president Richard Wannan said this campaign is a long-term approach to doing business for the good of everyone in the county. He said this effort could be an historically significant moment to look back on with pride.
“The spark is there. Let’s build that fire and make #BuyCloseBy an initiative that we’re proud of and something 20 years from now [we will] sit back and go, ‘We were there the day it was launched and got to see the rewards it’s reaped and got to see and economy that’s 12 months strong and 12 months supportive,” he said.
What this campaign will fully entail was not revealed at the announcement.
This group, which includes Haliburton County Home Builders Association and the Algonquin Gateway Business Association, is receiving funding from the Haliburton County Development Corporation through the Local Initiatives Program and support from Haliburton County and Highlands East.
The program comes from an idea that was started by Highlands East and was championed by area business owner Ann Corrigan, who worked with the Highlands Economic Development and Business Advisory Committee and then developed a marketing plan. The chamber has taken her idea and developed it further in hopes of changing the way people shop and think of local businesses.
Highlands East Councillor and advisory committee chairperson Cec Ryall said whenever anything gets done in Highlands East it is a group effort. However, there is always a champion behind these efforts and “if you want to thank anybody, thank Ann.”
Corrigan is excited about #BuyCloseBy being developed further.
“The reality is we needed to focus as an entire county and we’re on the team. What affects Highlands East affects all of us so we need to grow it together as a team. I’m not very comfortable with my name being attached because I want to be seen very much on the team,” she said. Corrigan said it was an idea she had thought of for awhile.
“For whatever reason it just popped into my head,” she said.
Ryall said the spark was the results of the Business and Retention and Expansion Survey. It included 10 recommendations/questions such as, how do we make a better opportunity for people to buy locally?
Corrigan said the idea of #BuyCloseBy was shared at a stakeholders meeting, which included representatives from around the county, including Haliburton County staff and the chamber of commerce. Now she is a board member with the chamber.
“I’m in engaged now and see something really cool happening that we’re growing as a community that is bigger than just our corner and this is a new attitude and it’s really exciting to be part of,” she said.
Wannan pointed to one key question to further the concept of #BuyCloseBy: How do we get the people in our community to realize the jewels and gems that are already here?
Ultimately, he hopes to see year-round sustainable employment and economic growth.
Reducing out-of-community and online shopping by just 10 to 15 per cent, he said, would be a significant difference to the economy.
“This isn’t just a marketing strategy. Marketing is critical for people to understand, but then we need to have deliverables that will give other tools for us to work with,” he said.
There will be education available, expansion of marketing possibilities for businesses, social media presence, look at service delivery, and how to work with government regulation.
“As a community we need to share our successes and we need our community to say why they should be here,” Wannan said. “We can never stop online shopping or out-of-town shopping ... but what we can do is make our community realize the value of ourselves.”