One clear consequence of globalization and international trade is that our retailers are bursting with affordable products shipped from distant places. They’re tempting, to be sure, and when you compare them to the cost of local products, they may appear to be less expensive. But is that really the case? We took a closer look and came up with 5 key points.
Preserving the unique character of Québec’s communities
The first point that comes to mind is the one-of-a-kind feel that Québec’s communities, towns and villages have when they have thriving independent, local businesses. Compared to the large chains that are the same everywhere, small, local retailers offer products that are inspired by their environment and made by local artisans, which adds to the individuality and charm of the main shopping areas.
Making a difference with our buying power
The next aspect to think about is our collective buying power. The retail trade in Québec generates over $126 billion per year, keeping over 322,000 people at work. All of this money represents enormous buying power, which we collectively can choose to invest either in products for which the profits leave the province or in products that enrich the local economy. This argument is not political or nationalistic in any way; it simply makes sense. Take a moment to imagine the potential economic boost if 30% of that buying power was invested in local businesses.
Choosing quality over quantity
By and large, the local designers in Québec’s home decor industry that I’ve met over the past 10 years share the same values to do with local manufacturing and ethical practices when it comes to making their products. They also favour the use of local raw materials, as they are mindful of the return that this can generate for them. The end products are of a better quality, having been made in small batches with materials chosen for their performance. Access to the company’s customer service department will also be much more direct than if the company were headquartered in the United States, Asia or Central America, for example. That same attention to detail is also due to the fact that these designers sell their products to local customers who are quick to let them know if their products are not up to par. You wouldn’t be in business long if you sold products to nearby customers that weren’t as good as those they could buy elsewhere!
Paying a fair price
For obvious social and economic reasons, a cushion or piece of furniture made in Asia will cost a fraction of the price of producing the same item in Québec. For an identical suggested retail price, the profit on the foreign cushion would be much higher than on the local one, and the consumer with feel ripped off. Many Québec businesses are trying to change this perception by offering local, unique and original products at a fair price. Worth a visit: Signé Local, Chic & Basta, C’est Beau, Bref, and l’Appartement.
Supporting homegrown businesses
In the end, are local home decor items actually less expensive? Yes. Since many products have not been subjected to exchange rate fluctuations or handled by multiple intermediaries, they are the more economical choice. You will also come out ahead by investing in the completely local experience, supporting a homegrown business and giving our Québec designers and retailers a proverbial pat on the back by buying local.
Passionate about colour, vintage decorative elements and hand-made items, Vanessa Sicotte celebrates décor in all its splendour. Vanessa is the mastermind behind the Damask & Dentelle blog—and author of a book in the same name—where she has been sharing her favourite décor discoveries since 2009. She is also the host of Sauvez les meubles and Marché Conclu on Canal Vie. Since fall 2015, viewers can reap Vanessa’s valuable advice by watching the Marina Orsini show on ICI Radio-Canada Télé, where she is featured as décor commentator.