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Shop (Locally) Til You Drop: Why Supporting Local Businesses Is Important

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at York U chapter.

Buying gifts for people can be a stressful experience, especially when you feel the person you are gifting for has just about everything. So where can you turn to?

Some feel that Amazon is the answer to their prayers, navigating through a bottomless pit of items. Others feel that malls are the solution, offering a multitude of chain stores that are reliable and familiar. Nonetheless, these unplanned trips around a mall may feel like searching for a lost and unknown prize. 

While I am guilty of resorting to both malls and Amazon, my most recent gift purchases that I am most proud of came from local businesses and shops. This is a lifestyle choice that helps cultivates a sense of community and support the local economy. Shopping locally in Vaughan or the GTA allows me to connect with the owners of these businesses and learn about their inspiration for pursuing entrepreneurship. It allows me to expand my horizons and learn about people’s cultures and how their social identities are expressed in the products they sell.

Local businesses offer products that I feel are unique and personable. While products are ultimately influenced by each other, I have stumbled across local businesses that are regional, including products that are catered to a specific purpose. Some businesses are truly one of a kind. 

Navigating local businesses is part of the joyous experience that embodies a simplistic way of living and captures a reality where businesses practice ethical vending, with quality and speciality. Supporting local businesses means supporting the dreams and aspirations of the owners who want to find success in the competitive, capitalist market we live in. A simple purchase is a gesture of appreciation for their hard work and pushing them to grow locally. 

The concept of local businesses does not only exist where I live, but it transcends borders. Memories of stumbling across small shops and finding the beauty in products that have a story in Quebec, Miami and Italy are key for me. Traveling can be experienced in a more figurative way when one area reflects a greater diverse community. 

A little side note – if you have the opportunity to step into Union Station, you can explore the community; “Divided into neighborhoods, each offering a unique culinary or retail experience, through marquee restaurants, curated fresh market or independent local retailers showcasing the best of Toronto” (Toronto Union). 

Supporting local businesses is a lifestyle choice that I think brings many benefits to all involved. Local products can sometimes be mistaken for affordable finds. But they offer learning opportunities for budgeting and selecting gifts that can be more meaningful for the person receiving them. And I promise you, the quality will not disappoint!

Big corporations and multinationals have influenced our perception of where to shop with their well-known brand names. What they don’t want you to know is that you are surrounded by local businesses that reflect the diversity and strength of your community. Take a moment to research local businesses in your area and go explore what the people of the GTA have to offer you.

Sofia is a part time writer at Her Campus for York University. Branching under the sectors of life and culture, Sofia likes to write about her experiences and inspirations, that shape the person she is, and wants to be. She loves to write because it demonstrates her creativity and allows her to connect with other people. Writing is her favourite form of communication because words on paper hold so much meaning, and she hopes to give that to readers. Beyond Her Campus, Sofia works for the City of Vaughan, where she instructs recreational programs for children and youth. She enjoys working with children and youth because learning from them is both a humbling and rewarding experience. Sofia completed her undergraduate studies, majoring in Children, Childhood & Youth Studies, and minoring in Sociology. She is currently in her first year in the Bachelor of Education Program, as a teacher candidate. Aside from writing, Sofia enjoys reading romance novels and watching movies in her free time. Always ready for adventures, she loves discovering new restaurants in Downtown Toronto and enjoys going for walks. But most importantly, spending time with family, friends, and her dog Léo are what brings her the most joy.