For this month I’m stepping away from my regular column advice on what awesome things there are available to purchase in Fernie and instead, talking about the importance of actually buying them. I want to give our local business owners a voice and share what it means to them to have you walk into their store, and buy something. Seems simple, doesn’t it. And it is. So step away from Amazon, and support your own community (that Bezos guy has enough money!).
Fernie has a certain charm about it. I hear the term ‘Authentic Mountain Town’ thrown around a lot, and I believe that means that it is real. The people are real, and the vibe of the town is influenced because of it. The people here really are just something else.
Fernie’s downtown has over 100 one-of-a-kind stores. That means that over 100 of those awesome local people I just mentioned are working their butts off, day in, and day out, to bring YOU the very best in their industry. Together, they help give Fernie its distinctive character. From the softest teddy bears to the creamiest cheese and the most extreme downhill mountain bikes, we have a store for almost every need. Variety, originality, and personalized and knowledgeable service are available within a five-minute drive, and I encourage you to support them or guess what, they’ll disappear.
Having a small business is not easy. Having a small business in a small town is even harder. I was honoured to work alongside Alicia Clarke from Grow Children’s Boutique for many years, and it blew me away precisely how much work goes into the running of her business. It takes dedication and a great love for what you do to continue on through the ups and the downs. Alicia is a committed volunteer and supporter of many local events; she works very hard in her store and throughout the greater community.
I recently saw an Insta Story from Freyja Lifestyle Fashion about the owner, Chantel, still having the same excitement 12 years later that she had when she first opened her store. Chan works hard to bring fashion to the Kootenay Babes, but she goes beyond the typical role of a business owner. She really asks what do the women of Fernie need and then goes all out to help her create it. Freyja isn’t just there to sell you your next killer outfit; it is also a social hub, the venue of your next ladies night out, and a central location of community support. Chan is a fierce supporter of Fernie’s charities, non-profits, and of course, the ladies. I asked her what running her own small business means to her and she said, “It means having a career that I enjoy every day.” I think we’re lucky to have her!
Every single one of Fernie’s small-business owners has a story to tell. They form a wonderful collective of inspiring entrepreneurs that helps make Fernie what it is, and they all play a monumental role in supporting our local community.
Let’s have their backs and work hard to keep our money local and by doing so, help stimulate the local economy and create jobs. It’s cliché but true, every purchase made from a local business helps the owner provide wages for your friends, keep your kid's soccer club going, and put food on the table for their own families.
They need us! Support local business, if you don’t then one day, they won’t be able to afford to be here and that would be an incredible shame