Helping Lloyd help itself

By Mike D'Amour

March 3, 2016 11:05 AM

These will soon be familair sights in and around Lloydminster

Shopping local first step to recovery

One would have to be insanely rich and horribly obtuse not to realize we’re a city teetering on the edge of financial disaster.
Businesses are closing, people are desperately seeking work — any kind of work — to put food on the table.
Stories evocative of the early 1980s are starting to emerge; tales of folks pulling their vehicles into bank parking lots, throwing the keys on the front seat and walking away.
We’re also hearing unverified stories of homeowners doing the same, dropping keys on the kitchen counters of homes they can no longer afford.
We here at the Source certainly don’t have all the answers, but we do know two things: we will get through this, and to do that we must stick together.
More than that, we want to support our local businesses in a way that will prop them up until the bad times turn good.
The Source, for example, goes out of its way to buy local and keep jobs in Lloyd.
In another example, the paper has an excellent production and graphics department that employs four full-time people.
This in a time when other papers have largely chopped similar departments in favour of sending the work overseas where the same work is done for a fraction of what it costs to keep local people employed.
Reid Keebaugh, majority owner of the Source, was born and raised in Lloydminster and has lived through the kind of economic downturn we’re experiencing.
“I do see businesses failing here; you hear it on the street every time you go out,” he said, noting Lloyd survived the catastrophic and cash-shy early 1980s.
“I have zero concern whether the oil patch will come back, because it will,” said Keebaugh.
“I’m comfortable in the understanding we’ll either adapt to what we have and make it work, but I am concerned about people who have gone into business in the last five to 10 years who can’t hold on through this.”
The fact is there’s not a lot of extra money out there and people are hunkering down and hanging onto what they have.
“It’s part of living smarter,” said Keebaugh.
“But shopping local is what will keep us going until we recover —
every little bit will help.”
Keebaugh said he knows people who say, “I’d love to shop local, but I can get a better deal in Edmonton.”
He vehemently disagrees with that statement.
“I have trouble truly believing that in this economy you can’t make a deal with a local person,” he said.
“If I went to buy a truck in Edmonton and the dealer gave me a detailed sheet of what that truck is, you can’t tell me that I can’t come back to a local dealer and get the same price.
“I’m confident local merchants can meet the best price you could find anywhere else.”
You bet we can, said Derrick Redden, sales manager at Lloydminster Honda.
“We all — every Honda dealership — pays the same amount for our vehicles to Honda Canada and the they don’t give discounts for volume,” he said.
“We will for sure match any price you find in Edmonton or Saskatoon.”
Spiro Kokonas has been in the restaurant business in Lloydminster for more than 45 years and has see his share of the ups and downs associated with boom and bust economies.
“We’re still (seeing that) now just like everybody else,” he said.
When people feel forced to tighten their belts, Kokonas realizes dining out is usually one of the first indulgences to go.
“That’s exactly right,” said Kokonas.
“But it’s true that my loyal customers are the ones who kept us going when things were tough.”
The key to staying afloat, he said, is looking after local people.
“Not that we don’t look after the rest, but (locals) are our main source, just like any business.”
Right, said Colin Pape, a man who’s made a business out of the shopping local notion.
“When you spend money with local businesses, instead of with big chains or online sites like Amazon, way more of your money stays in your economy which can then re-circulate locally,” said the owner of ShopCity.com, a Canadian company from Ontario that provides communities with a turnkey, customizable platform and business model to help keep more dollars local.
“The impact of your first dollar spent is much more than just that dollar due to this local multiplier effect — more than 700 per cent in some cases,” said Pape.
“In circumstances like the one you’re working with in Lloydminster, it’s even more important to be proactive, especially those with solid government jobs, to shore up your own entrepreneurs and ensure they stay in business.”
But it’s not all on the consumer, Pape warned.
“Businesses must use their physical presence to remind people to shop local first,” he said, noting this includes signs, stickers, banners, in their storefronts and at their cash registers.
“They must be grateful for the support; actively thank everyone for supporting local and helping them weather the storm.”
Lastly, Pape said businesses must make it as convenient as possible to support them.
“That might mean changing store hours to ensure they’re open at the right time of day — or even on Sundays,” he said.
“It definitely means ensuring your product and service information are accessible online and on mobile devices, where 97 per cent of consumers now look when they are trying to find something local — this influences more than 30 per cent of all consumer spending, so it’s a big opportunity.”

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