Some of the lovely ladies at Kopas Store

Shop local and support your community this holiday season

Christmas is just around the corner and there is no better excuse to hit up your local businesses.

Christmas is just around the corner and there is no better excuse to hit up your local businesses. Bella Coola may be small but it packs a pretty mighty retail punch, with specialty shops and artisan gifts you won’t find anywhere else.

In addition, spending your money where you live is the best way to create jobs and support the local economy. For Bella Coola, with its limited economy and remote location, this is even more important.

“Small businesses create jobs, with retail being one of the largest” said John Morton, owner of Kopas Store. “So it’s important to support your local businesses at Christmas and throughout the year so that we are here when you need us.”

According to Industry Canada, small businesses account for more than 98 percent of all firms in Canada and proportionally play a large role in net job creation, creating 77.7 percent of all private jobs from 2002 to 2012. In total, small businesses created a little over 100,000 jobs each year on average.

Medium-sized and large businesses, which account for 1.6 percent and 0.1 percent of all firms, respectively, created 12.5 percent and 9.8 percent of net new jobs over the same period, representing about 17,000 and 11,800 jobs each year on average.

Bella Coola is unique in that it is home to exclusively locally owned businesses and service organizations. That web of connectedness heightens the fact that we all depend on one another in this community, no matter what time of year.

Kopas Store, one of the longest standing businesses in the community, offers a large selection of giftware, clothing, local art and, their specialty – regional book titles.

“We have people from out of town who do their Christmas shopping here off-season because they appreciate our selection,” said Morton. “During Christmas we do make a special effort to create a holiday atmosphere.”

Also on the townsite you’ll find the bread and butter of our downtown: the Bella Coola Co-op and Townsite Tru Hardware. Both are offering special items and deals for Christmas.

“Purchasing goods and supplies locally provides employment; keeps our dollars in the Valley; and promotes what little economic development we ourselves establish,” said Co-op Manager Peter Rauch.  “And if you’re looking for a great stocking stuffer, our new Bella Coola Co-op Gift Cards are perfect.”

New owners Sherri and Al Fontaine at Tru Hardware have also made an extra effort to stock up for the Christmas season. In addition to the usual Christmas decorations, lighting, and holiday accessories, the store is also stocking up on children’s toys and practical gifts for every member of the family.

Journey down to Hagensborg and you’ll find Tahrih Goffic’s brand-new coffee and giftware shop, Dragonfly Studios. Also a working art studio, Goffic is carrying local jewelry, art, pottery, prints, and artist-designed clothing in addition to specialty coffees and homemade goodies.

Also located on Highway 20 is Kelsey Levelton’s fun and funky Tse Tse Fly Gift Shop. Levelton’s eclectic mix includes clothing, jewelry, hot sauces, teas and fun novelty items such as ‘poo-pourri.’

“It’s good for our economy and it’s worth it to shop local,” said Levelton. “People need to consider the costs before they leave town. If you factor in hotels, gas, and hotel costs, you are not saving money. And if you can’t find what you need here, just ask. We can likely order it in.”

At the airport you’ll find the popular Wildman Café. Owned by Jen and James Taylor, they are serving up delicious sandwiches, healthy snacks, and specialty coffees. They also carry a great lineup of book titles and unique gifts.

Moore’s Organic Market and Nursery is also a great place to stop for locally made gifts and goodies including chocolates, jellies, soaps and bath and body products. The Hagensborg Shop Easy is stocking up on toys for Christmas and carries a wide selection of electronic products for everybody’s tech needs. The space also hosts the Swan Goose Gallery, which is another place to purchase local art.

The Valley is also home to a multitude of talented artisans whose work is available through local galleries such as Creekside Gallery, Petroglyph Gallery and Fire Art Studios, or by contacting the artist directly.

So this year, be sure to check out your local options before considering that wild and snowy five-hour drive to the nearest big-box chain store. It’s worth it.