Shopping Local in Montreal

One thing that struck about moving to the city was the sheer number of coffee shops.

There are hundreds of them, full of people on their lunch breaks and students struggling to finish last minute assignments. They boast everything from cold brew to chai tea lattés and blogs like Narcity are constantly posting lists of the best independent coffee shops in town. So it struck me as odd that people almost immediately chose chain cafés over local ones. 

Despite hearing about coffee shops that boost local artists, everyone jumped at the chance to go to Starbucks or Second Cup. I have nothing against overly complicated drink orders (other than not understanding how they work)  but when you live in a city with so many options for coffee, why keep going back to the same chain over and over again?

Trendy coffee shop

When you support local businesses, whether they be independently run coffee shops or someone at your local farmers market, you receive benefits that can’t possibly come from large corporations. 

The sustainability movement is forcing people to become more aware of what they’re buying and why. It takes consumers away from large retailers and introduces them to people in their own cities. There’s a sense of community that comes with local businesses. They’re one-of-a-kind and a larger portion of their revenue goes back into the local economy. 

You know that feeling you get when your best friend opens a gift and their eyes light up? That same thing happens to the artisan when you choose their product over a large retailer. You’re essentially doubling the happiness. 

And coffee isn’t the only thing you should consider when making the switch to local businesses. Visit the farmer’s market or sign up at an independent gym. Buy a present from your local gift shop or order a birthday cake from a nearby bakery. 

Cinnamon buns

A tweet went viral a few months ago, where a business owner expressed their gratitude for a $50 purchase. She said, “whoever just placed a $50 + order in my shop, thank you so much that literally just paid for half of my groceries tomorrow.” To a billion dollar company $50 is only a drop in the bucket, but to a small business, even $20 can mean money for gas, food or even going out with friends. Your purchase goes a lot further.

You know that feeling you get when your best friend opens a gift and their eyes light up? That same thing happens to the artisan when you choose their product over a large retailer. You’re essentially doubling the happiness. 

“It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs.”

Choosing a local, independently owned business over a chain means more money stays and circulates in the community. It creates more diverse and unique businesses and small businesses are more likely to reinvest into the neighbourhood. 

A bunch of clothes on han

Thinking ‘local first’ means supporting your friends, family, neighbours and yourself! These are people who are invested in your city.  I remember watching my brothers play hockey when they were really young. “TimBits” was plastered across their jerseys when they were in Tyke but, as they got older, I also remember seeing local restaurants and clothing stores sponsor them. And it’s not just sports leagues who benefit. Charities and organizations also benefit when we support local.

When I moved back to Canada I couldn’t believe how many coffee shops I’d walked by in search of the nearest Tim Hortons.

Michael H. Shuman, the author of Going Local said, “Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It Means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers.” He said, “It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs.”

Fedoras

I used to live in Portugal, where the idea of buying coffee at a national chain is foreign. We’d see cafés advertising “Delta” or “Illy” coffee, but they were still independent shops with their own unique branding and creativity. I think I saw a Starbucks once when I arrived at the airport. When I moved back to Canada I couldn’t believe how many coffee shops I’d walked by in search of the nearest Tim Hortons.

Making the switch the buying local products isn’t always easy (especially with the allure of Superstore and Second Cup always on the horizon) but the benefits to the community far out way the convenience.

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