With more shoppers choosing e-commerce purchasing options over traditional purchasing methods due to COVID-19, it’s clear that the retail landscape is evolving. In Canada, retail e-commerce sales nearly doubled (+99.3%)–and this is more than just a temporary boost. It’s also causing a mindset shift, shoppers becoming more likely to continue to shop online even after the pandemic.
Retailers—especially small mainstreet businesses—are relying on online sales more than ever. Heading into the holiday season, it is important to support your independently-owned local businesses. “Showing local entrepreneurs your support during these difficult times is important for helping the economy recover,” said Linda Jutzi, Executive Director, Downtown Kitchener BIA. “We know that people have lost jobs during this pandemic and that less money will be spent over the holidays. Local businesses understand this and are empathetic given the loss they too have experienced. If we all change our patterns and make a commitment to devote some (or all if possible) to the holiday gift giving budget you have, towards a local business, you will be making a difference. Further, you might be part of the solution that ensures they are around to serve you in 2021. Amazon will survive…they will be around next year but the small business owners may not. These local shops offer unique products and experiences through gifts, food, health and wellness, beauty and experiences. They bring diversity and culture to our cities. It is so important now to commit to that change, knowing that you are supporting people that are keeping money in the community you love to live in.”
So what can you do to help? Easy—just make shopping local part of your holiday shopping plan. Need some suggestions? Here’s what local treasures the BitBakery team recommends for your holiday shopping (or any time of the year)!
Local holiday shopping
For something truly unique
Don’t know what to buy for that hard-to-shop-for family member? Get inspired by checking out shops like J and J Cards and Collectibles or Gifted Waterloo. With games, puzzles, collectibles, books, accessories, collectables and more, you’ll be sure to find something unique. Know a comic fanatic? Find something rare at local comic stores, Carry on Comics and Lookin’ for Heroes.
For the entertainer
“Music is always a great gift,” said Attila Schimt, BitBakery’s UX Director. “Encore Records and Orange Monkey are local independents worth supporting.”
Although going out to the movies is on hold right now, you can always buy gift certificates for a future night out to support Princess Cinemas and The Apollo Cinema.
While we wait for the theatres to re-open, why not gift a book to cozy up with while we’re stuck inside? Get lost in the great selection of stories Wordsworth Books, Old Goat Books, and KW Bookstore have to offer.
For the foodie
“I’m cooking at home even more now than ever and it is easy to get in the habit of making the same thing over and over,” said Wes Worsfold, BitBakery’s CEO. “You can sign up for virtual cooking classes at the Culinary Studio– they’re practical, fun and easy to make recipes with all sorts of cuisines. Co-founders and Chefs Kristie and Jody are amazing, and give great tips on where to buy stuff and share a lot of cooking hacks.”
Not interested in cleaning up dishes? Gift cards to local restaurants are a great way to give the gift of taste to your favourite foodie while supporting independent restaurants at the same time!
For the fitness junkie
“I recommend getting someone fitness class passes,” said Diana Valdes, BitBakery’s Product Manager & Software QA Engineer.
“Personally, I go to BigBliss for yoga classes. They have adapted to the situation and have implemented online classes too for those that would rather stay at home. They are such a great community. I think it would be a great gift for such a stressful year!”
Want to get that sense of adventure another way? Try giving a new experience like rock climbing at Grand River Rocks, paintballing at Flag Raiders, or good old fashioned arcade games at AOK in Downtown Kitchener.
For the maker in your life
Shopping for someone who always seems to have the latest gadgets? With all the tech booming out of KW, you’ll be sure to find something local to give the maker in your life.
For makers who love efficiency, check out Monogram Creative Console– a freeform control surface perfect for photo/video editors, music production, and other creative workflows.
If you know what a PCB is, you’ll definitely want to experiment with rapid prototyping of circuit boards using Volterra’s V1 PCB printer. This is the ultimate solution for rapidly creating circuit board prototypes. Best of all, Volterra is a local company led by University of Waterloo graduates and the V1 is assembled here in Kitchener.
Access to 3-D printers is a maker's dream. Fortunately, we have public access to 3-D printers at the Kitchener or Central library. If you want to bring 3-D printing capabilities to your home, a 3-D printer or related accessories make an awesome gift, and can be a magical experience for kids– as Joe Reda, BitBakery’s CTO can attest to.
Love local? Then shop local.
This year, challenge yourself to check off those wish list items with great local finds. Whether it’s sharing an old favourite or discovering a new hidden gem, Kitchener-Waterloo has a lot to offer and it’s up to us to help keep our favourite local businesses around.
Still need more ideas? Check out CuratedKW’s Holiday Gift Guide, featuring 125 businesses (over 20% BIPOC-owned) from across Waterloo Region, and Downtown Kitchener’s comprehensive Holiday Gift Giving Guide to show some love to these businesses over the holiday season.