EMAN BARE —The Carillon (University of Regina)
REGINA — In recent years, there has been an influx in the number of locally-owned businesses opening up in Saskatchewan. Although bigger retailers such as Marshalls and Target are opening up stores, some believe that the culture of shopping is changing overall.
Regina store owner Tara Bokitch said that she has seen a shift in the overall attitude of people shopping in the province.
“I have noticed a change in people supporting local business,” Bokitch said. “In the community where my shop is I believe that there is a larger push for people to shop local than that of other areas in the city.”
Bokitch is the owner of Solitude and Soul, a home decor business located in the Regina’s Cathedral Village neighborhood. Bokitch said that more local businesses means more money in the pockets of Saskatchewanians.
“I believe that the increase in locally-owned business is great for our province, as it demonstrates strong leadership and it creates jobs for other Saskatchewan residents,” she said.
Additionally, Bokitch believes a main reason people are beginning to open up their own stores is because they are choosing to step outside the box and develop their passions into thriving businesses.
Chelsea O’Connell is the co-owner of three successful businesses in Saskatchewan, all of which have opened in the past five years. She said bigger companies are not what are hurting small businesses right now, but rather online shopping.
“We do compete heavily with online retailers, mostly from the United States, and as people’s lives get busier and online shopping becomes more convenient, more people are shopping online during the Christmas season.”
O’Connell first began her business five years ago with her partner and said that since opening Coda, her first store, she has had the opportunity to work and collaborate with other local entrepreneurs.
“When you buy from a local business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You are helping a little girl get ballet lessons, a little boy play soccer,” O’Connell said.
She said that local businesses give back to the community in a way that online stores and bigger companies cannot. Her own community relations include voluntarily running Saskatchewan’s first-ever fashion week, which brought emerging Saskatchewan artists to the stage. Other local store owners offer charity fashion shows, coach basketball teams and run community skateparks.
“We do these things not as a marketing scheme, but because we genuinely care about our community and the people supporting our business,” O’Connell said.
Although new stores are emerging frequently, Buy The Book — an independent bookstore in Regina — recently announced it was shutting its doors after 18 years of business. The owner, Chris Prpich, assures his customers that lack of business was not the cause of the store’s closure.
“I’ve been doing this for 18 years, and I’ve [gotten] to do everything I wanted to do with the business,” he said. “I felt that I took it as far as I could, and I just want a new challenge.”
Prpich also said that business was as strong as it had ever been for his bookstore.