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Buying local by bus

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The Social Purchasing Portal (SPP) made it easier to shop local this holiday season.

The second annual Holiday Shopping Bus Tour took place on Wed., Dec. 11 from 11:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Aboard a Winnipeg Transit bus, holiday shoppers visited and learned about inner-city businesses, co-ops and social enterprises.

SPP is an online directory for socially responsible businesses in Winnipeg and is a project of LITE (Local Investment Toward Employment).

"The big part (of the tour) is just trying to bring that visibility to the businesses, the social enterprises and co-operatives that make up our directory, but also to bring some  visibility to the whole Portal project," said Molly Dunbar, SPP co-ordinator, before the bus tour.

"It’s also to contribute to that ‘buy local’ movement, but even a step beyond it. All of the businesses on the directory are local but some of them are also social enterprises, which means their profits are going right back into the mission the non-profit that owns them is serving.

"Even for the locally-owned traditional businesses, they’re often doing something special on top of just business as usual."

This year’s Holiday Shopping Bus Tour started at the The Social Enterprise Centre (765 Main St.) and visited Pollock’s Hardware Co-op (1407 Main St.), Sam’s Place (159 Henderson Hwy.) and finally Neechi Commons (865 Main St.).

Sam’s Place is a new addition to the tour, while both Pollock’s and Neechi were stops on last year’s outing.

Chantelle Ranville, an employee at Pollock’s, said she appreciates people checking the store out via the tour.

"It’ll be good for new customers to check out our store and it’ll be good for them to see the new inventory we’re getting in," said Ranville before the tour. "We just got a shipment of wooden toboggans in. We’ve got our windup toys and we got a good selection of toys in general for children. We have a little bit of everything."

In addition to being good for the local economy, Dunbar said the bus tour is simply a fun way to shop.

Also, SPP made sure the impact of the event was felt by more businesses than the three stops on the tour.  

"We’re also putting together a coupon book that has promotions from a lot of the other suppliers that are on the (SPP) directory," Dunbar said.

Jacob Carson, 34, a West End resident, was one of 26 people on the Holiday Shopping Bus Tour. He said the tour  was an educational experience, as well as a just a nice way to get out to buy presents.

"You need to do (Christmas shopping) anyway," said Carson, while browsing in the art and crafts section of Neechi.

"I guess that’s part of the deal, to make your dollars count, to make them matter. If I’m going to do Christmas shopping anyway, I might as well direct it towards something that makes a broader difference."

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