Choosing TBay First Means Choosing TBay People

Thanks to a grant we received through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to conduct our #ChooseTBayFirst campaign this fall, we set out to produce a series of videos that explore the “money-back guarantee” that’s attached to every purchase you make with a local business.

At one business, an employee named Jamie told us his boss donates $1 from every oil change to the Northern Cancer Fund in honour of the former owner.  They’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars for the charity in the last three years.  As Jamie talked about having customers come in to say thanks for supporting something important to them, you could hear the pride in his voice.  It was kind of contagious.

We’ve collected a lot of stories to illustrate how this guarantee works.  When you spend with a local business, money returns to the community – and to you, by extension – through wages they pay to your neighbours, property taxes they pay to our city’s coffers, money they spend with other local businesses doing the same thing, and donations they make to the charities, sports and arts organizations that help make our city a better place to live for everyone.

While this makes for a sound economic argument in favour of shopping local, our learnings from these experiences have been much more meaningful to us than just economics.

The conversations we’ve been having with the customers, employees and organizational partners of the businesses we’re featuring are incredibly uplifting.  Not only does it feel great to be out talking with so many different people, the things we learn about these businesses remind us over and over again how good and kind and generous #tbay people are.

From Jamie’s story about the oil change donations to the one about the grocers whose donations help sustain the Dew Drop Inn, we’ve been reminded over and over that what’s behind every one of the #tbay businesses we’ve explored is people.  Kind people. Hard-working people.  #tbay people.  Our people.

For a year and a half we stayed home to keep ourselves and our families safe.  It left many of us feeling isolated, disheartened and disconnected.  Working on the #ChooseTBayFirst campaign has been the antidote to that for our team; we’ve stopped in at dozens of businesses and talked to hundreds of #tbay people about the ways shopping local supports Thunder Bay’s rich social and economic fabric.

We invite you to do the same.

As we come into the holiday season, we hope the immense pride we’ve been feeling in our community is as contagious as Jamie’s.  We hope you’ll have some of the same uplifting experiences with local businesses that we have.  When you go out to shop, we hope you’ll run into people that you haven’t seen in ages.  We hope you’ll ask staff for their advice and enjoy a conversation with another #tbay person who wants you to walk away happy.  And when you buy, we hope you’ll walk out the door feeling good about making a choice that supports a stronger, more vibrant Thunder Bay for all of us.