Valemount to get “Small Town Love”

Finding a way to support local independent business: this was the quest Quesnel-based Amy Quarry set out to achieve with the original “Small Town Love” buy-local initiative. A pilot project is now coming to the Valemount region called “Love Valemount” and 20-30 local businesses will have a chance to have their story told.

The Northern Development-led pilot program supports the development of a website portal that will promote local businesses in and around Valemount. Participating businesses will have their photos taken professionally, a write-up done about the business owner and services, and a listing of services and products on the Love Valemount website.

“We know that as an independent business owner you may often be crunched for time & money, and marketing ideas,” the program brochure reads. “We also know that you are up against many challenges unique to small towns – higher shipping costs & travel expenses, and fewer people (just to name a few). Small Town Love offers a template approach, with individualized twist — making it affordable & accessible for you and other entrepreneurs, artists, crafters, food producers & micro-businesses to get a professional online presence, and connect with your community in a new and compelling way.”

The pilot program is a partnership between Northern Development and entrepreneur Amy Quarry, who created and launched the original “Small Town Love” buy-local initiative in the City of Quesnel. Quarry’s original program was very well received and highly successful, a press release says. One-in-five Quesnel residents now own a copy of the first “Small Town Love” guide, which sold out in less than four months. The program is anchored by a strongly branded website with high quality photography, which features many independently owned local businesses.

Northern Development’s board of directors, which is made up of elected representatives and provincial appointees from throughout central and northern B.C., approved a $75,000 budget for the pilot program, or roughly $12,500 per area. While many economic development initiatives concentrate effort on developing new business, the buy-local program focuses on enhancing the strength of existing businesses.

Village of Valemount Mayor Andru McCracken says whether a local business has been open two years or 30, it’s important to recognize, support and celebrate what they do best.

“When we in Valemount allow ourselves to consider what our small businesses have managed to pull off: like David’s Funky Goat Eatery, Mel’s Unique Boutique, Mike’s Three Ranges Microbrewery … we realize we live a pretty charmed life in the midst of some stunning small town entrepreneurs.”

Valemount is one of six communities in BC in the pilot program. The others are the District of Logan Lake, the District of Fort St. James, the District of 100 Mile House, the District of Vanderhoof, and the Village of Burns Lake. Each of the six communities has a population of less than 5,000 residents.

The partnership will operate as a pilot while looking toward the possibility of an ongoing program. To apply, businesses must be local and independently-owned (not part of a franchise of similar businesses). There is a participation fee of $50 and businesses will be accepted immediately on a first-come, first-serve basis, says Katy Fabris, planning intern at the Village of Valemount. They hope to have all the businesses confirmed by Sept. 4 and the website live by Nov. 1st. For more information or to be a part of the Small Town Love program in Valemount please contact Fabris at the Village Office.

The site will be located at www.lovevalemount.com

By: Korie Marshall