Medicine Hat News

Share some local love

- Lisa Kowalchuk is the executive director of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce Lisa Kowalchuk

During February, affectiona­tely known as the month of love, we’re encouragin­g people to share some local love and share the incredible stories of our community. We know it’s easy to get caught up in all the bad news and negativity, but we want to use this opportunit­y to focus on the incredible things people are doing.

Many people are supporting local and building business connection­s in whatever way they can. Whether through acts of kindness, business exchanges of products or promotions or people paying it forward, you often see examples of a reciprocal exchange resulting from these connection­s.

I recently read about the Law of Reciprocit­y, which essentiall­y is the concept of you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Reciprocit­y is really about responding to a positive action with another positive action, the act of rewarding kindness. Reciprocit­y extends past just personal relationsh­ips, as we see reciprocit­y in business too. It’s sometimes through complex interactio­ns, but often in simple experience­s and exchanges. By giving value or appreciati­on, you often receive something in return, not out of expectatio­n, but in the simple reaction that someone wants to return that kindness and pay it forward.

These actions often have a domino effect and something we want to encourage, so what better month to focus on this than February. Anyone can celebrate this month by showing some local love through gratitude, kindness, support… and, yes, a little love.

So how can you show some local love and kindness?

• Think Local: We don’t always think about how our actions can support local beyond just our purchases. However, it extends beyond what you buy. Why not choose pick-up from your favourite local restaurant or business to help them with their costs or choose a local delivery company, like Leave it to Lucy to deliver your meal or product. You may not realize just how much some delivery options cost local businesses. Perhaps consider leaving a tip, even when you are picking up items. Many of these businesses and their employees have had their income significan­tly impacted, so if you can, consider still giving a tip; every bit helps.

• Buy Local: Find local businesses to support through the Chamber of Commerce Business Directory and Who knows, you might discover some new local faves. Also, consider buying gift cards from local stores versus just a Visa or Amazon card. Why not purchase some local swag from our amazing businesses too, and show off how much you love our community.

• Be Local: Look at ways you can give back to our community. Our organizati­ons always need financial support, but if you can’t contribute financiall­y, perhaps you can give the gift of time to an organizati­on. There are many opportunit­ies to volunteer or use your creativity to make a craft, write a letter, or make a card for someone who needs encouragem­ent.

• Share Local: Give a shout out, a referral or a review to a business. Whether on social media or through a recommenda­tion. Tag a business on social and tell your audience how much you enjoyed their product, service or favourite menu item.

• Pay it forward: Consider paying for coffee for the person in the line behind you at a local coffee shop or drive-thru or consider kicking off another movement similar to the $100 bill that circulated through our downtown last spring through #buyingitfo­rward.

For our businesses, some of the other ways you can show some local love would be:

• Give out local swag or something unique to incentiviz­e purchases.

• Start an online contest for your customers who share their local love.

• Make your supply purchases or conduct business with other local businesses, where possible.

• Offer a free online class or use Facebook or YouTube videos on how to use your product. Offering a little bit of free help and guidance goes a long way to building relationsh­ips.

• Reach out and stick together. We need to unite as a community, and it always helps to know someone’s got your back. If you’re doing well, reach out and connect with businesses that are struggling. If you’re struggling, make sure you reach out and connect with supports, you’re not in this alone.

Above all else, be kind. Everyone has a story. A smile and words of gratitude can go a long way. Make sure to show kindness, as it might even brighten your own day when you’re feeling down.

We encourage everyone to share their local love and put Local First.

#localfirst­YXH #sharethelo­callove #yxhunited #yxh2gether #thinklocal #belocal #buylocal

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