The Hub December 2016/January 2017 - Page 12

Local owners go to great lengths to make sure their customers leave happy owners themselves who end up working the extra hours, resulting in fewer days off for many of them. A big box store doesn’t close its doors for a week when the manager takes a vacation - a sole proprietorship may have to. But even for Calsavara convenience can sometimes win over uniqueness. “Typically I only go to a larger store, like Walmart, to look for a specific item,” said Calsavara. “For people with a limited amount of time to shop, bigger stores provide people with convenience,” said Calsavara, who said the online shopping does the same. “We’re ready when customers are ready to shop. In other words, we have Christmas products for early shoppers as well as last-minute shoppers,” said Felicia Fefer, marketing manager at Walmart Canada. "Customers come to Walmart to shop for the brands and convenience provided in-store and online." The staff at Walmart accommodate for what she says is the “busiest shopping period of the year.” Hours are extended and more staff are put on shifts. Karen Niforos, marketing director at Devonshire Mall understands the appeal customers find in branded stores, with trusted names and products. But even though head office for these stores may be hours away, the local employees certainly live within 100km, and their jobs matter too. “Many of our shoppers recognize that local also means supporting local investment and jobs so purchasing from Devonshire Mall is key,” said Niforos. Usually, a balance can be found. “There are customers who love brand stores, but many love shopping the independent retailers.” “I went to bigger brand name stores and smaller stores to buy my Christmas gifts,” said Brianne Wilson. “But I prefer to shop at little local stores.” Wilson found that Devonshire Mall isn’t just “chain” stores, having attracted several locally-based tenants in the past few years, like BB Branded and Origins. She visited Origins to purchase some of her gifts this year. She went in expecting to buy a specific item but after talking with the salesperson, came out with something completely different. Local owners go to great lengths to make sure their customers leave happy. “With items in some stores, the item is non-descript. Here (in Casa Chavela) you will get the background, like who made it and where it came from,” said Munsterhjelm. Hearing the story of an object or a gift can form an emotional attachment or bond to the item. This prompts people to buy it, so they can share what they feel and see about the object. Calsavara agreed that he’s more likely to buy something once he has learned more about it. Community outreach is also key to the survival of all stores big and small. Connections between the stores, their consumers and their communities helps to entice people in. For larger stores like Walmart and Devonshire Mall, marketing plans are prepared and events are planned for different parts of the year. During the holidays, events with Santa are a popular draw. Left: It’s easy to forget that even when stores aren’t locally-based, they still emply many local workers. Right: Gail Rock at Ten Thousand Villages tries to make the store welcoming all year round with events and special offerings