Members of the Thompson Chamber of Commerce responded to a survey sent out in June regarding a shop local movement in the city. Thirty-five people responded out of the 117, but Keith MacDonald, Chamber of Commerce president says that 30 per cent has been the highest response rate since the surveys started in March.
There were 10 questions for employers to respond to, with the first one being if the chamber of commerce should promote a shop local campaign. 91.43 per cent said yes, 5.71 per cent said maybe, and only 2.86 per cent said no.
MacDonald noted that although the membership sees the need for a shop local campaign, it would be hard without the financial help of the federal government, provincial government or the City of Thompson. MacDonald hopes to gain partnerships to go forward with this. “We priced this our four years ago, and it was $45,000 a year to run the shop local program.”
28.13 per cent said the hotel accommodation tax should be used towards the chamber of commerce. MacDonald noted the chamber has been in talks with the city regarding that exact topic. “The promise is that city will look into it for the 2016 budget, which is good. Currently it goes to affordable housing, infrastructure and public safety. If we can get about 10 per cent of that money for tourism or economic development, the local shopping campaign will fit in.”
One thing MacDonald found of importance in the survey results was the need for customer service training in the north. 91.43 per cent of respondents said there is a need for customer service training in Thompson, and that it should be offered to local businesses. 38.71 per cent said if this was offered management would take part, and 29.03 per cent said staff would be trained as well.
During the last chamber of commerce meeting the essential skills training being offered by the YWCA was discussed. The training is during the month of September, and can include customer service training, or anything an employer thinks needs improvement within their staff. MacDonald says they will be emailing members to get the word out about the free training courses available.
94.29 per cent said in the survey the reason Thompsonites shop in Winnipeg is because there is more selection, while 65.71 per cent said it’s because of bad local customer service. MacDonald says there’s a serious need to have local stores increase sales to keep business in the north. MacDonald suggested restocking popular items.
Survey participants had their own ideas on how to compete with online shopping and travel shopping. Some suggestions include offering a “Forks” style of market for small businesses, services and artists, having a box store area, more variety of outdoor activities like hunting and fishing, a business tax break, and having enough staff to reduce line-ups.
The final question asked if Thompson should do more promotion in neighbouring communities. While 67.62 per cent said yes, there was 5.88 per cent who said no. One comment included that they didn’t know Thompson businesses did promotions. MacDonald says they run radio ads about shopping local in the fall and winter, but only have a small budget, and hopes to increase the promotion of the local businesses. He finished by saying if you shop local you’ll be helping locally owned businesses, who then in return will help out the community by donations if they have the funds.
The August survey, MacDonald says, will most likely be a more in-depth look at shopping locally.