The Vanderhoof Chamber of Commerce wrapped up its business walk consultation drive with a presentation at a regular District of Vanderhoof council meeting on Monday Feb. 14.
The business walk started in December last year. The chamber asked a series of questions to businesses owners and found some commonalities between them.
The non-profit came up with recommendations to grow commerce in the district and outlined some challenges local businesses have faced during the pandemic.
The chamber hopes to work with the district to improve exposure for local business through cross-promotional activities focused on tourism, development and local consumption.
Chamber President Michelle Roberge said the pandemic has been a mixed bag. There was surprising growth for some businesses while others didn’t make it.
“Overall the main message we got was that businesses need to still push shopping locally. They need to get people shopping in Vanderhoof,” Roberge said.
“At the beginning of the pandemic people really did (shop local) because you couldn’t go anywhere — and that was a great benefit. A few businesses actually expanded over the pandemic to accommodate that.”
Issues with employee retention she said weren’t necessarily pandemic-related as there is a lack of available housing in the community that makes it hard to bring in new talent.
She said different business models were the main reason for that discrepancy in success rates.
“Some businesses did all sorts of things to make it work and so and that was fantastic. The businesses that were able to do that, and be creative and that were more fluid survived, and had a decent year. Some of the businesses that just weren’t able to do that suffered,” Roberge said.
Roberge said ‘shop local’ isn’t just about residents buying their products closer to home — it’s also about businesses supporting each other.
“We need to continue that ‘shop local’ momentum and increase business to business awareness,” Roberge said.
“Our real push at the chamber is to show that they can go to other businesses in Vanderhoof that have things that can support their business.”