UM = urbanicity Magazine
PM = Peter Mokrycke, Architect Hair Design
SB = Susie Braithwaite, International Village BIA
ED = Erin Dunham, The Other Bird
UM: How can we as consumers help to support local small business?
PM: Be critical. Expect the best, like a parent with a child. If we’re not delivering, give us feedback. Don’t let the “little things slide”. If something isn’t right, point it out. But do it honestly, constructively, and responsibly. Would you post on the internet every time your own child screwed up? Probably not, but you’d sure as hell let them hear it. Local small businesses are like our community’s children. Be tough on us, not just because you want us to be better for your next visit, but so that we grow up into more responsible adult businesses that care about our customers and our community. When local businesses win, Hamilton wins.
SB: Being aware of where you are putting your money is essential to helping small business. Before you rush off to a big box store ask yourself if you could be spending your dollars locally. Instead of feeding corporations who just keep getting richer, help put food on the tables of local small business owners first. They have put everything they have into opening these small businesses to fulfilltheir dreams and deserve respect and awareness from consumers for it. Not only that, but 9 times out of 10 you’ll find much more unique products there that you won’t find elsewhere.
ED: Be aware of what small business can offer you. It’s everything from business services to presents available in shops. Small business covers almost every need, the difference being that your money usually makes a bigger impact for those businesses.
UM: How can local small businesses support each other?
PM: Instead of spending resources and energy on fighting for the same customers, collaborative-minded businesses look for synergies between them that will make processes more efficient, products better, and uncover opportunities to develop and grow their local market so everyone wins. SB: Local small businesses can help each other by cross promotion and support. In International Village several of the businesses work together to help drive traffic through their doors. Whether it’s through organizing events together or just from sharing a good word about a neighbouring business, it all helps one another and is crucial to success.
ED: Local businesses can use each other when they can to support each other. It may have a slightly higher cost to it but there’s far more chance that your local partner can put money back in your business than the big guys from another country.
UM: How can City Hall support local small businesses?
PM: In order to help Hamilton’s business community, in particular small business, City Hall needs to address its toxic organizational culture. The City’s strategic vision and the City’s organizational culture are at complete odds. While there are plenty of city staff that want to do the right thing for Hamilton, they are restricted by systems that subdue, even punish, progressive thinking and action. “No” cannot continue to be the easy, safe answer at City Hall. There needs to be an accountability to solutions, and incentives for progress, not complacency.
SB: Hamilton City Hall can support local business by loosening the red tape that is often associated with opening
and functioning a small business. It is certainly getting better in Hamilton, but has a long way to go. Understanding
that small business can’t be treated like big biz is key. Small business owners simply don’t have the deep pockets
like corporations do.
ED: Hamilton City Hall can support local small businesses by creating more efficient processes for getting them open
and supporting them through the business cycle.