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Local vendors need your help during the holiday season

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With inflation still high and the cost of living skyrocketing, some vendors at craft and Christmas bazaars are struggling to market their markets. This is prompting many small businesses in Manitoba to make a plea to purchase locally.

Heidi Forrester and her daughter Janelle said they plan on doing all of their Christmas shopping at community markets this year.

“We really need to support those people that are doing things with their hands and their own creativity rather than buying cookie-cutter stuff from a box store,” Forrester said.

“I feel like the things that we find at Christmas markets and craft sales are also more personal,” said Janelle Forrester.

While the gifts and trinkets may be more personal, they can also be more expensive at times; both to buy and make.

Theresa Neufeld is the owner of BB Tallow, a skincare line that includes moisturizer and a healing balm. She’s only been in business for a few months but said she has already raised prices for her products.

“I’ve had to adjust products and prices accordingly, as I find…to get supplies that are local is quite costly,” Neufeld said.

Neufeld also said online shopping habits from the pandemic pose a challenge to local businesses and bazaars, like the Charleswood Curling Club craft sale and flea market.

“To draw people in you have to do a bit more advertising,” she said.

Other vendors say the growing number of markets every week can be overwhelming for the shops and shoppers.

“It is actually really quite challenging that way, with there being so many markets actually happening in Manitoba on any given day,” said Stephanie Biyak, the owner of Semb by Stephanie. Biyak added that with customers visiting several markets every season, they’re watching where they’re spending their money.

According to the Retail Council of Canada, times of economic hardship could mean a “make or break” period for local businesses.

“There’s less money in the pocket this year and so people tend to skew towards bigger boxes and online,” said John Graham, the Retail Council of Canada’s director of government relations for the prairie region. “But there’s still that role for smaller businesses, local businesses to play.”

Graham said the demand for locally-made goods is still there, even if customers aren’t planning on spending as much.

“Spend about the same as last year, just know that those dollars won’t go as far,” Graham said.

The money may not go far, rather it’ll stay close to home and help support local initiatives.

“Not only are you putting money back into your community to help those who need it, you’re also putting out the word of those businesses out there,” said Ibukun Omosehin, a student at Elmwood High School.

Spreading the word and holiday cheer one Christmas and craft market at a time.

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