Support for local business ‘heartwarming,’ say shop owners in Williams Lake

Scott Horley was out shopping local in downtown Williams Lake during his lunch hour on Tuesday, Dec 8. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
The Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce staff decorated the Tourism Discovery Centre for the season. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)The Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce staff decorated the Tourism Discovery Centre for the season. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake businesses say they are seeing many residents shopping local in time for Christmas, which is helping ease the loss experienced when everything was in lockdown at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Geoff Bourdon of Woodland Jewellers said the community has been very supportive which has allowed Woodlands to, in turn, donate to the community as they have in previous years.

“This year has shown us that even with restrictions and a pandemic that Lakers will put in the extra effort to make sure we still succeed,” Bourdon said.

As a result of COVID-19, he said they have put in place extra cleaning protocols for all of jewellery or giftware that has contact with customers, for example – trying on rings.

Each piece is disinfected and cleaned thoroughly before going back into the displays.

This has added significantly more labour to the business but, he said they do it happily to protect their customers.

Read more: One-of-a-kind ruby ring up for grabs in Woodland Jewellers hospital fundraiser

Angela Rankin of The Open Book said they have always had a ‘wonderful’ core of customers that make a concerted effort to shop locally.

“Many of them have been in the store this year sharing their warm wishes for us to recover from this spring’s business curtailing when Covid first spiked.”

Rankin said they are also seeing people in the store that they haven’t seen in a while, making an effort to do more local shopping this year, and give her small business a helping hand.

“It has been heartening to have so many people share their desire to have a thriving downtown and small business community.”

Rankin said this winter has seen a bit of an improvement over other years, but with their loss of spring sales, they’ve had a slow recovery.

She said she is grateful to be open and helping customers, while small bookstores all over the world have had to close.

“Over and over again I feel so lucky to be here in Williams Lake and that we haven’t had to have as many restrictions placed on us as in some other places. All the more reason to love being in a small community.”

A lot more customers are placing orders on the website, or calling in or e-mailing their requests, she noted.

“I’ve been doing free local deliveries for those people who are trying to venture out in public less. Having restrictions on the number of people in the store has been a challenge at times, but our customers have been very understanding and patient with us, and we are so grateful for that, as well.”

Last week the Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce lit up Christmas trees on the balcony of the Tourism Discovery Centre.

Executive director Alex Gresl said the intent is to add some cheer and encourage everyone to “shop local, shop local and shop local.”

“We invite others to decorate and plan on doing even more decorations next year,” Gresl added.

Read more: Williams Lake and District Chamber of Commerce hires new executive director

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