Re­tail af­ter Ama­zon?

The Glengarry News - - Front Page -

Will there be any small-town re­tail­ers left in a few years?

The ques­tion hung over the an­nual meet­ing of the Alexandria and District Cham­ber of Com­merce last week as mem­bers again re­it­er­ated the im­por­tance of shop­ping lo­cally.

With giants such as Ama­zon and Wal­mart con­sum­ing larger chunks of the mar­ket, con­ven­tional small store op­er­a­tors are strug­gling to sur­vive.

In fact, Michael Mad­den, a cham­ber board mem­ber, had a dire pre­dic­tion: “In five years we will have no re­tail­ers if peo­ple don’t sup­port lo­cal busi­nesses.”

Shop­ping has rapidly and dra­mat­i­cally changed with the growth of on­line pur­chas­ing in re­cent years.

Like ev­ery­one else, lo­cal con­sumers are spend­ing more money on­line.

At the same time, com­mu­nity and non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions con­tinue to rely on lo­cal busi­nesses for sup­port.

“Ama­zon does not sup­port lo­cal events,” noted cham­ber pres­i­dent Phil Clouthier.

Mr. Mad­den sug­gested that lo­cal shop­ping be the fo­cus of a talk the Alexandria cham­ber or­ga­nizes with the pro­vin­cial and area cham-

bers of com­merce.

Ama­zon has be­come the largest In­ter­net re­tailer in the world in terms of rev­enue and mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion, and is sec­ond only to Alibaba Group in terms of to­tal sales.

The topic of a “shop lo­cally” speech arose when Si­grun Schroeter, a job de­vel­oper with the Glen­garry In­ter­a­gency Group (GIAG), re­layed GIAG’s idea that the cham­ber co-spon­sor an em­ploy­ers’ break­fast. In ad­di­tion to be­ing in­for­ma­tive, the break­fasts per­mit en­hanced net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The con­sen­sus was that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, agen­cies and busi­ness groups ought to in­ten­sify the lo­cal shop­ping move­ment.

Some 22 peo­ple at­tended the an­nual meet­ing where the need for more ac­tive mem­bers was re­it­er­ated.

Last year’s trade show was dis­ap­point­ing, Mr. Clouthier con­ceded, cit­ing a lack of sup­port. “We couldn’t get peo­ple in­volved,” he said. “I won­der what role there is for the cham­ber in the com­mu­nity.” The cham­ber is sched­uled to stage another trade fair in 2019. “We need to fig­ure out if we will pro­ceed with one,” he said.

The craft show was a suc­cess. “But there is a lot of work to put into it,” re­lated Mr. Clouthier, adding that the event would not have taken place if it had not for the as­sis­tance of a co-op stu­dent. “The num­ber of calls is out of this frickin’ world,” he com­mented.

Mr. Clouthier added that this was the fifth and last year he or­ga­nized the craft ex­hi­bi­tion. “I won’t do it again,” he said, men­tion­ing that a ser­vice club may put the event on this year.


Trea­surer Lynn Gau­thier, sec­re­tary Ce­line Martin and di­rec­tor Syl­vain Martin have stepped down from the cham­ber’s board of direc­tors. Melodie Niederer is the new sec­re­tary-trea­surer while Pamela An­dré has joined as a di­rec­tor.

Other mem­bers of the board are vice-pres­i­dent Scott DaPrato, direc­tors Elaine Oete­laar, Danielle Du­ranceau, Nicole Bour­bon­nais, Kevin Van­den Oete­laar, Anne Le­duc and past pres­i­dent Brent Hill.

Shop Hop re­turns

Af­ter a three-year ab­sence, the Alexandria and District Cham­ber of Com­merce’s Shop Hop pro­mo­tion is re­turn­ing. Sched­uled to take place from May 26 to June 7, “Shop Hop is a great op­por­tu­nity for all busi­nesses to en­cour­age traf­fic to their stores and to show and tell cus­tomers what you have to of­fer,” the cham­ber says in a mes­sage to mem­bers.

The cham­ber can­celled the pro­gram in 2015 when only 13 busi­nesses ex­pressed a will­ing­ness to take part.

Un­der Shop Hop, con­sumers are en­cour­aged to hop from busi­ness to busi­ness and get a book­let stamped at each par­tic­i­pant. Shop­pers’ names are then en­tered in a draw.

Phil Clouthier

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