It all began at Bo, Bohemia that is, the perfect spot for lunch, tea or an energizing jolt of latte, with chalkboard witticisms served on the side. Creativity brews here, in hindsight it was fitting that Erin Corcoran and I held our first business meeting in the place that embodies the local love that is downtown Barrie.
Readers of this review know Erin; her name is synonymous with Simcoe County Shop Local, an initiative she began two years and over 50 video interviews ago.
Erin’s support for local was seeded much earlier; riding alongside her mother on sales trips, where she saw live, it was the support from small independent shops with their loyal shoppers that supported her family’s livelihood, not the large chain stores, her mother soon learnt to avoid them.
The lesson stuck, as now it is independent businesses that Erin lends her focus and enthusiasm to.
Erin Corcoran runs her real estate business from referrals, with most clients coming from outside the county; she knows the benefits of directing those clients to independent local businesses within their new community.
We know the facts on these benefits; we know the statistics about how the dollars spent locally in our city, drives the local economy. We see the social benefit, the building of a strong, palpable sense of community. We feel how the development of relationships that come from supporting local enriches the very fiber of our lives and in turn creates a richer community.
I champion for local with my words.
From our collaboration I created the series of reviews called Barrie Through the Seasons, which are posted on both the Simcoe County Shop Local website and my own website. The monthly reviews were designed to encourage community awareness in support of local, downtown focused events, businesses, restaurants and shops.
In January 2016 we resolved to continue our support of local, by bringing attention to our beautiful city for her new clients and for those new to the joy of shopping and supporting local. We hoped to inspire readers with our support of local.
During the busy month of December I had engaging conversations with two individuals who Erin met through her Simcoe County Shop Local initiative, I wanted to discover what supporting local means to them and how it impacts on their lives and business practices.
Erin Corcoran and Cherlynn Michelizzi of Sophisticakes met to discuss a ‘mud bath’, a creative design for a birthday cake, featuring cute edible pigs basking in chocolate mud, neither knew that a custom cake order would set their friendship.
‘Being a home based, small local company helps me out tremendously, as my business is based on referrals. I want my customers to be pleased and to refer people to me. The biggest part of my business is referrals. I was actually Erin’s first video for her Simcoe County Shop Local’.
Cherlynn shared that she shops local as often as possible. ‘I use a local supplier to buy bakery supplies; it’s called ‘How Sweet is That? It’s an online bakery supply provider run by a woman named Sherry Potter. My eggs come from a local farmer nearby’.
Cherlynn explained that it’s all about having a reciprocal relationship with local, the family’s favourite neighbourhood pizza place runs adds on the back of their flyer supporting local businesses and in return, when its pizza night, that’s where they order from. ‘You get to know people, when you are going into a place and seeing the same people, talking to the same people, so you know there is a face behind who you are supporting, I think it makes all the difference when it is family owned. It makes it personal and you start to make friends’.
As Cherlynn states, it’s ‘about give and take’. Being part of a community means contributing to that community. Since meeting Erin, they have volunteered together many times for C.O.P.E. Service Dogs, a worthy cause they both support.
I enjoyed learning that #locallove exists in the suburbs of Barrie.
Doug Bedard, aka Plex is a man of many talents filled with kinetic energy, a Videographer for Wylie Ford, a hip-hop artist and a producer. Erin was working on a project with his wife, Jennifer Podemski and subsequently Doug became a wonderful friend, or as he describes it ‘we like each other’s stuff on Instagram daily’.
When I asked Doug about his support of local business, he defined it as ‘supporting businesses within the community, trying to pull away from the corporate element, rather than going to Walmart, trying to support a local shop in town’. This set him off with a veritable list of names for every need a family could have! I was duly impressed with his commitment to shop locally.
Shops, restaurants, medical practitioners, naturopaths, I’ll drop a few names he shared; Avōco Bar, Urban Dish, Kenzington, Crazy Fox Bistro, Unity Market, Fork and Plate. Food shopping for their home is often done at Nicholyn Farms, while Smart Moves Play Place and Vertical Zone are both ‘go to’ indoor play spots for their small children.
‘As I mentioned, we do tend to eat out more than we probably should, so we do eat at more local restaurants as opposed to fast food joints. Another spot we love is Tara on Dunlop. They serve authentic Indian cuisine and they’re great’.
Supporting local took on a deeper meaning for this family as their commitment to health included finding local naturopathic practitioners when they moved to the area. Doug shared how thrilled they are with the providers; they are pleased to recommend them to contacts both locally and in Toronto. Bioreflex Therapies and Lakeside Clinic you just got a big shout out!
Art is a much valued commodity, supported also by their shop local lifestyle.
‘Typically I would say art is where we would stay local with; we purchase art as gifts for others. We are very tied into the art scene, not just locally but spread out across the country, because there is so much beautiful artwork coast to coast when you think of the different nations, Indigenous Nations. For me personally I think it’s about supporting local business and trying to make them your first choice’.
‘I was always connected with those types of local businesses as a kid; I always felt I was treated better. If I go into Walmart there’s not someone that knows my name. I like being recognized and appreciated by a local business. It seems the smaller you go the better chances are that happens.
Supporting local has reciprocal value, for everyone involved in the transactions. The social value is immeasurable.
For an active, engaging realtor, the ability to provide community feedback to her clients is a plus; having it all on her website, a convenient service. Erin reports she has ‘started to notice more and more people asking me for ideas on where to eat, shop, play etc. I enjoy them thinking of me as a go-to’.
Supporting local is a commitment to your community and it comes with rich rewards.
It has been my pleasure bringing you Barrie Through the Seasons, as 2017 unfolds, let’s continue to support local together!