Retail after Amazon?
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.