Paul ByrneIt’s Black Friday and I’m trembling beneath my sheets. I get up, don my housecoat, down two coffees, deck the halls and turn on the CBC news. The ghosts of Black Friday past are dancing in my head with promises of mega-sales spam missiles and Scrooge Street savings. The email money gods promised not to assault my senses or lie to me, but I know better. Pretty much every bot, every click farm and Scrooge Street banker is making stuff up in the digital world these days. I break out in a cold sweat, open my laptop, yell charge and defend my computer with true Canadian chuztpah — delete, delete, delete.

Slowly Black Friday has infiltrated the Canadian retail space, but it truly remains the domain of big box stores with deep pockets. However, as our readers profess, bigger is not best.

What a contrast between Black Friday and the Best of the Okanagan awards. Voting once again in record numbers, the readers of Okanagan Life have made their choice for a celebration of shopping local. Small independently owned, often multi-generational businesses dominate the awards. It has been quality service, outstanding products and that personal touch, not mega sales, which have brought customers to these exceptional Okanagan businesses for 10, 20, 30, 40 years and more.

When consumers get to know local businesses better, they are susceptible to positive subconscious influence. Regional magazines across North America, like Okanagan Life, have become stronger, smarter and more profitable because we better understand the effects of positive subconscious priming, in spite of a 15-year smear campaign of half-truths and misdirection by Scrooge Street bankers and the love-in with the Internet.

The digital world is embezzling from the traditional media world — and the ad world is doing nothing about it. Small business must begin to understand that it is the mega-wealthy, Scrooge Street plutocrats that are crippling the economy and extorting small business profits. A recent Marketing Daily story reports that only eight per cent* of online ad impressions ever have the possibility of being seen by a real person.

Maybe Santa will bring us some relief this year? Online ad-blocking software is readily available for Christmas gift giving and iTunes has a free version called Freedom. Entrepreneurs giveth, Scrooge Street extorteth and Apple taketh away. How fitting.

I wonder why so many consumers do not reconsider their purchasing habits? Logically, emotionally, and even environmentally, it behooves all of us to embrace great British Columbian businesses by seeking out local businesses to patronize.

As the UBC Sauder School of Business writes in The Power of Purchasing, “Local businesses employ and are owned by friends and neighbours, who are heavily invested in the strength of our communities and our quality of life. They create good, local jobs, buy more goods and services from other local businesses, give more to local charities, recirculate more money in our economy and strengthen our social fabric.”

The economic argument is overwhelming as every dollar spend shopping local brings $46 to the local economy. In Canada, local businesses recirculate 2.6 times more revenue back into the local economy than multinational chains. And, with just one per cent increase in BC consumer spending, it would create 3,100 jobs and $94 million in wages to our friends and neighbours.

I have never bought anything online. I shop local instead. The Walmart heirs own more wealth than almost half of all American families put together. (I hope this bothers you as much as it does me.) Why would Okanagan consumers buy from monopolies when we have amazing Okanagan businesses right here?

At Okanagan Life, we are feisty. We understand that honesty, integrity and loyalty matters to readers, consumers and advertisers. This is the ultimate “shop local” guide — please use it accordingly. Shop locally, keep our jobs here and ensure the money stays here.

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