Where are you planning on buying your Christmas gifts this year? It is often said that one of the main drawbacks living in the BVI is the limited choice of shopping, especially for those who are accustomed to living in larger cities with every material good imaginable.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with treating oneself to big city luxuries, it can be too easy to overlook what we have right here in the BVI. As a small territory that is defined by its small businesses, we need to show the local economy our support. In the US,local businesses generate 70% more local economic activity than conglomerates. When looking at online businesses such as Amazon or ASOS, the gap widens even further. Shopping locally not only boosts money circulating in the economy but also helps support local employment growth.
Luckily, one of the easiest ways to support ‘small’ this time of year is to shop local. Buy your Christmas presents at home this year. Really look to see what is on offer. This has been a challenging year for our economy, but the upside is that hardship tends to breed entrepreneurs and as a result the BVI has a wealth of new start-ups. For example Greencrete, which was created by Hubert Lennard Jr.,who makes ‘one of a kind products from concrete and recycled glass.’
As well as supporting the territory’s economy by shopping locally, you will be reducing your carbon footprint as well. The ecological impact can be two-fold; removing the need for shipping items into the country, but also potentially buying eco-friendly products from Nutmeg Designs or Green VI, two examples of businesses in our burgeoning eco market.
This awareness of supporting small businesses is a global growing trend, with 35% of US consumers reporting that they would like to purchase products made in the USA this year in comparison to 27% in 2012, and it is reflected in our territory. The new organization Locally Made BVI produces a catalogue with the aim to promote ‘local handcrafts, food and traditions’ in the BVI. This isn’t designed just for Christmas but year round for tourists and locals alike.
However it is one thing to say, and another to do. We need to translate our good intentions into actions in the BVI. This year’s Christmas on Main Street did little to reassure local businesses of the territory’s support with most reporting slow trade. Whilst it is true that consumers are still tightening their belts as a result of a recovering economy, the consumer should also be thinking beyond themselves and making more of a conscious decision about where their money, no matter how little, will be spent.