Catherine Macey column: In-person shopping experience valued

Last week I was fortunate to attend a BIA conference in lovely downtown Kelowna.

By Catherine Macey

Last week I was fortunate to attend a BIA conference in lovely downtown Kelowna. BIA stands for Business Improvement Area and in a nutshell, BIA’s promote business, tourism, safety, and revitalization in their business and shopping districts.

There are dozens of BIA’s in our fair province, of which your friendly local Downtown Duncan BIA is one. The City of Vancouver alone has 22 BIA’s — each with their own unique personalities and composition of members. What I’m really happy to report about the Kelowna Conference (above and beyond the fine weather and wine!) is that while it may appear sometimes that Amazon is taking over the world, the fact is that people — a lot of people — still want an actual shopping experience; as in seeing the actual product and dealing with actual people.

So yes, e-commerce is on a rapid rise, but so too is the popularity of supporting small independent businesses. It seems to me that e-commerce is to shopping downtown what social media is to face-to-face conversations — convenient yes, but an ersatz experience overall. What we have here in Downtown Duncan is pretty special — wonderful little shops owned and operated by helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable people that are part of your community.

Maybe it’s time for a little more “shop with heart” instead of “add to cart”.

Did you know?

• Thanks to the hard work of Tourism Cowichan, our Valley has been receiving lots of media exposure recently. Check out the Tourism Cowichan Facebook page for links to all sorts of photos, videos, and posts from Tourism Victoria to top lifestyle bloggers to the KING 5 Evening TV program. Get ready folks — we are being discovered!

• Lise Brown Cosmetics is moving from Canada Avenue to Craig Street. As of May 1, they will be beside Shades Ladies Clothing and across the street from the Brew Pub.

• Newly opened Artisans’ Nest is having a shop-warming event on Saturday and Sunday, May 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is a great opportunity to discover and support local artists. You’ll find the collective at the corner of Canada Avenue and Station Street.

• Uncle Albert’s Furniture Store has been in business for 45 years. Opened in 1973, this downtown fixture at Canada Avenue and Second Street has consistently offered great products, great service, and great staff for almost five decades — congratulations and well done!

Catherine Macey is executive director of the Downtown Duncan BIA

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