'We want people to shop local': Alliston businesses support local economy

·3 min read

Jessica Pereira walked into the Rebel Crumb with one thing on her mind.

“I have a sweet tooth,” Pereira said, laughing as she peered at the pink swirly-topped cupcakes, each wrapped in its own cellophane container.

“There’s not too many sweet places around and I wanted to buy something local,” she said, picking up two boxes. “It’s good to support everyone here.”

Pereira’s actions — from seeing a post about a new store on social media and driving downtown to purchase an item — are exactly what the Business Improvement Area (BIA) Rurban.ca is urging New Tecumseth residents to do, as we approach the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want people to shop local and recirculate money into the economy,” said BIA general manager Linda Spurr.

Brick-and-mortar businesses pay local municipal taxes that fund area services while e-commerce retailers do not. Also, 88 per cent of Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) members employ locally, and 84 per cent donate goods and services to charities and causes, said Ryan Mallough director of provincial affairs for Ontario’s CFIB.

According to Statistics Canada, 88 per cent of all private sector jobs in Ontario are at small (one to 99 employees) and medium-sized businesses (100 to 499 employees).

“That dollar, when you spend it online, at an international or multinational company, that money is just gone. When you spend it locally, it just goes so much further,” Mallough said.

That’s what Rebel Crumb owners Ed Dillon and Sarah Macey are counting on. After two decades as a franchise kitchen operations manager, Dillon wanted his passion for cakes and desserts to become his livelihood.

Rebel Crumb started as a small operation in a home kitchen and has grown into a retail outlet in Alliston’s downtown that opened Feb 8.

“This cake shop is the culmination of everything I’ve done in my life. When you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work — it drives me. I’m not going to let it — COVID — stop me,” Dillon said.

He said business has picked up each month, so much that he bought a new oven so he can bake up to eight cakes at a time to meet demand. In addition to cakes, Macey is running the Modern Market, creating vegan and gluten-friendly fare.

A little further west on Paris Street, Michelle Joyce and husband Kevin Thompson understand what it was like to open a business as the virus expanded globally.

“Obviously, it was not in the plans to take over a business during a pandemic,” Joyce said.

Thompson had worked at the Indian Flame restaurant for eight years before they bought the mostly dine-in establishment last April.

Joyce said their menu quickly translated into takeout only. She praised the sidewalk patio that kept them going last summer.

Now they’ve expanded their venture to include the Copper Bowl, a fair-trade textile business that supports women and communities in India.

“We didn’t plan for this, but you’ve got to keep looking forward, take little steps and have faith,” she said.

Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance