Buy local. Support small businesses.
These slogans are becoming increasingly prevalent as large retail companies have gradually taken up more real estate on our main streets. But is there substance behind the sayings? Does shopping at midtown's independent stores have any real benefits?
In a word, yes. For starters, significantly more money stays in the community when you shop at locally-owned businesses. Buying local also helps support the growth of other businesses and the local tax base. One recent study shows that locally-owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact. For every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $45 goes right back into the community, compared to only $14 at a chain store.
Locally-owned businesses are more likely to hire architects, tradesmen, accountants and other ancillary service providers from the neighbourhood as chain stores generally keep those functions in-house.
Independent stores make a retail strip a community main street. Along with being an important part of our local neighbourhoods, Torontonians do come from all across the city to visit the Eglinton Way, Forest Hill Village and Mt. Pleasant BIAs because of unique destinations such as the Mad Bean, Little Dollhouse Co, Five Doors North, Zen Beginnings and Forest Hill's art galleries.
To honour the important contribution that local, small and independent business owners make to our quality of life, I started a "Best of Midtown" award to celebrate their contributions to our community- and to thank them.
We've recognized people like Mira Bunda and her family who've run The Bread and Butter restaurant on Mt. Pleasant Rd. for the past two decades and Elinor Lefave, the owner of Mabels' Fables. I have also discussed creating an initiative to support small, independent bookstores and cinemas- many of which have disappeared from our main streets over the years.
BEST OF MIDTOWN BUSINESSES
View Best of Midtown in a larger map
Photo's of Josh's visits with the Best of Midtown local small businesses. Thanks to Ward 22's business owners and staff for their tremendous hospitality and service to our community.
1365 Yonge Street
Bask is run by Shah Emily Noaman and offers original handcrafted jewelery. Ms. Noaman's nominators write that "Emily is a well known figure in the area and hires local staff for her store. She constantly reaches out to businesses in the area and supports the homeless through food and clothing drives. For her young age, she is truly a remarkable individual."
2106 Yonge Street
"Starting in 1994 with a dream of creating a local neighbourhood cycle store Walter Posner opened CyclePath, which at that time was a franchise store. As the years went by Walter became a legend in the local neighbourhood as a knowledgable, layed back, gentle and helpful store owner. At some stage the franchise of CyclePath collapsed and the store became owner operated versus a franchise. Over the years Walter employed local teens during the summermonths while keeping some stalwart staff to manage the store during the long winter months.
After 17 years Walter decided to "move on" to greener pastures and offered the store to one of his young staff members who had been loyal to him for 7 years. Kevin Wilson unfortunately did not have the funding available so he called upon his dad Michael to assist with investing in CyclePath. Mike, who had been in the corporate world all of his adult years decided it was time to break out on his own and instead of just "investing" in the store, he decided that it was time to go it alone. Mike purchased the store from Walter in November 2010 and is going from strength to strength.
Michael's philosophy is "evolution not revolution" and instead of being a new broom that sweeps clean Mike has kept the store as is, with several cosmetic changes and upgrades. Lucky for Mike, Walter has stayed on in a consultant capacity helping Mike ease into the life of retail. Kevin continues to be paramount in the mechanics of the store and as is tradition Mike has continued to employ the local teens during the busy summer season.
In the tradition of "family" Mike's younger son Colin also works at the store during the summer months and his wife Beverley is the web designer and technical assistant ensuring that the fridge,TV, printer and beloved coffee machine stay in top shape"