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Chamber champions Shop Local campaign
Campaign designed to shine spotlight on small businesses in Fort Simpson

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, November 10, 2016

When you spend money in Fort Simpson and surrounding communities, you're supporting your local economy.

That's the message the Fort Simpson Chamber of Commerce is hoping to get across as it embarks on a Shop Local campaign.

Angela Fiebelkorn, a board member with the chamber as well as one of its past presidents, said the focus of the Shop Local campaign is to get the names of small businesses out there for the community to see.

"People don't realize how much spinoff there is from a simple program like this. When you buy something from someone local, that money spins off to the next product they might buy from someone else who has a small business. It snowballs," Fiebelkorn said.

The campaign marks something new for the chamber, kicking off just in time for the Christmas season as well as the community's popular winter bazaar.

"There's a lot of really small home-based business owners in Fort Simpson, and people don't even really know that they're there," Fiebelkorn said.

"We really want to try to promote them."

To that end, the chamber is launching an initiative to get as many small businesses out to the bazaar as possible. For a small fee, people can join the chamber as a "micro-business," get a free table at the bazaar and are invited to a dinner, Fiebelkorn said.

"It's kind of a 'welcome to the chamber of commerce' kind of (initiative)," she said.

The campaign was first discussed in 2015. However, until now the chamber had been pursuing other priorities.

"This year, when we sat down and (decided) what we want our projects to be this year, this one came to the top of the list," Fiebelkorn said.

To bolster the initiative, the chamber will be including the names of every business in a monthly newsletter.

The organization is also offering a monthly prize draw for people who buy from local businesses, as long as they provide the chamber with a receipt.

"Right now, we're just focusing on Fort Simpson and the (surrounding) area," Fiebelkorn said.

"We're running it for a full year, so we hope that people jump on board and buy more from small businesses instead of buying online. It'll help the local economy here."

If the campaign takes off, Fiebelkorn said the chamber plans to track statistics from people who shop in Fort Simpson.

That data will be used to figure out total general sales through the Shop Local program.

As data becomes available on how much revenue is generated for village businesses, Fiebelkorn said the chamber hopes that will encourage even more people to buy within the village.

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