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GUEST OPINION: Shopping local and supporting small businesses important activities during COVID-19 restrictions

To help where we can, always look first for food produced here in Prince Edward Island, and secondly in Canada.
To help where we can, always look first for food produced here in Prince Edward Island, and secondly in Canada. - 123RF Stock Photo

Julie V. Watson
Guest opinion


As a senior on limited income I have been trying to think of things that I can do to help during this pandemic. Of course, I have done the social distancing and followed all of the rules to prevent spread, but other than experiencing loneliness that has not been difficult. I still have my income, a warm and dry place to live. I have hobbies. I have friends and family who keep in touch by internet and telephone. I feel blessed to live in Prince Edward Island where our leaders have been protecting us very well. I feel secure.

I don’t have much discretionary income but decided to make a valid list of what I can do and to follow through:

I can buy my cheese and dairy products from ADL and other local producers which also helps keep our dairy farmers from being forced to dump milk.

I can buy my jams and jellies from P.E.I. Preserve Company — who also sell cookies and condiments – or another local producer.

I can go to a local meat shop or butcher for my meat and specify that I want locally produced products.

When I buy eggs, I look on the end of the carton to make sure they are P.E.I. eggs.

I always look first for food produced here in Prince Edward Island, and secondly in Canada. Read labels, people. Did you know that it is difficult to purchase many products such as canned vegetables that are Canadian? Take mushrooms for example. Superstore finally started carrying a Canadian canned mushroom. It costs more and it's hidden on the bottom shelf but I found it! Don’t even talk to me about cereal.

I patronize local bakeries. We have some terrific ones scattered around P.E.I. I get a superior product and feel proud of both the business and of myself for going local. And I look for meat pies, hand pies, seafood such as mussels, lasagna and much, much more that is made locally rather than hitting the frozen food section of a big store.

At least once a week I indulge myself and get takeout from a local restaurant. Again, I look for those that are locally owned and operated. Chinese food from Cornwall, burger and fries from Boom Burger; there are lots to choose from.

I can support other local businesses now by purchasing gift certificates or gift cards to be used in the future. I have a lovely shopping spree at the Bookmark in my future.

Instead of ordering my craft supplies from Amazon I placed an order with the Scrap Shack in Moncton and arranged for curbside pickup from our Michaels store. If I need a gift, or special treat for myself I look to a local artisan.

Each week, I pick a nice day and take my dog and myself for a drive in the country. Just the two of us, but we get out of the house, have a walk, and shake off some of the negative aspects of so much time without social contact. I make a point of stopping at smaller country stores to support them as much as I can. I buy gas and groceries from these small businesses and hope it helps them. It may cost a few cents more, but really, for me this is doable.

Reality is that the big box stores, like Walmarts, grocery stores, Canadian Tire, the corporate-owned gas stations, etc., will weather this storm in good shape. Profits have to be up with so much of their competition closed down. We need these businesses and are grateful for the measures they are taking for our protection. However, it’s the small businesses that will have a hard time surviving. The businesses that are the essence of Prince Edward Island and set us apart. So, do what you can. Please think of small things that even those of us on tight budgets can do. And do it.

It’s easy. More importantly I get a feel-good vibe because I am at least doing something to help my homeland.


Julie V. Watson is an award winning author, publisher and workshop presenter who lives in Charlottetown.

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