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Supporting Small Businesses Without Spending a Dime

In a previous post I complained about the Alberta economy and how local businesses need more support than ever. The obvious answer is: spend your money at local businesses - but this is not always possible, so here are six ways you can help support your friend, family, or local small business, without spending any money.

1. Positive Reinforcement

I feel like this one is a no-brainer, but positive reinforcement. With any business, there are good days, and bad days; and a lot of the time those bad days come with self-doubting. Support your favourite local business, family and / or friends, by letting them know what a great job they're doing! I have to say I am very lucky in the amount of support I receive from not just my family & friends, but clients. I have some clients who send me the most kick-ass positive comments from my photos, to my eyebrows - hey girl, you know who you are!

2. Sharing is Caring

Maybe your friend started a small painting company, but you're like me and you rent so you aren't allowed to paint your apartment. What you can do instead is share one of their posts - say a 'before & after' image, because chances are, you know someone who does require these services.

3. Recommendations

Similar to sharing, if someone you know is looking for a specific service, reach out them and recommend your small business of choice. Not only that, but some business will offer referral incentives if you do this!

4. Honest Reviews

Before I get into this - as nice as it is to share a positive review on a friends page - don't do it if you haven't actually worked with them. I see way too many fake reviews on Google, Amazon, etc. and you can always spot from a mile away if they're fake.

BUT if you have worked with a small business, family or friend - leaving them an honest review will do wonders for their business.

5. Don't Ask for Discounts

If this is how they're paying the bills - it is a huge slap in the face. Not only does it put them in an awkward position of feeling obligated to say "yes", but it tells them you don't see the value in their work. If they want to give you a discount; they'll offer it. More often than not, I will offer a family & friends discount to the people that I know. Additionally, I offer 10% off to clients who recommended me to someone else.

If you can't afford their services - you can offer a trade. I have traded hair-dressers a family photo session, for getting my hair done! And NO - exposure does not count. Please keep in mind that not every photographer will do this, just because I sometimes will.

6. Team Up with Them

Maybe you're a small business too! A way you can give and receive support, is by partnering with another small business. Are you a makeup artist? Ask a photographer if they have a preferred vendors list, or perhaps you're new to modelling; the two of you can set-up a styled shoot to grow BOTH of your portfolios.

That being are a few of my personal favourite local businesses in Calgary, in no particular order:

Prairie Bazaar -

Honestly, all of my favourite furniture comes from this shop. I'm constantly being asked where I got my peacock chair from and I point them in the direction of Prairie Bazaar. All of her stuff is reasonably priced too...I often think she could even RAISE her prices, but who am I to complain? Out of her shop, her sister sells used clothing (Ox Eye Wild) so while shopping for home decor, you can score some cute outfits too! Best of all - everything is thrifted so you can feel good knowing you're reducing your environmental footprint.

Inner Wolf Jewelry -

I bought one of Ashya's necklaces in 2016 and we ended up becoming friends. Since then, we've done a trade (photos for jewelry) and I have even commissioned her to make me a custom necklace. To be honest - I don't wear a ton of jewelry, but I'm obsessed with her work nonetheless. Each of Ashya's pieces stunning & unique, but more importantly, they're all hand-made with ties to her First Nations heritage.

Rinse and Repeat -

ALSO thrifted goods. Rinse and Repeat makes delicious smelling candles out of mugs, dish-ware and other finds; Paige has a keen eye for the cutest vintage finds. Did I mention they're run by one of the sweetest mama's ever? She even sells mystery candles, which are basically like those mystery bags you got as a kid - but for adults. How fun is that?!

Bells Bookstore Cafe -

Family owned - they give you the authentic coffee-shop type of experience. The espresso is hand-pressed, the pastries baked in-store, and no over-powering music to drown out your conversations. Complete with books & boardgames, it's the perfect place to spend a rainy day. They were kind enough to let me shoot there last month, and their barista made sure to perfect her latte-art for the photos - such a little gesture went such a long way!

For Dogs Sake YYC -

Let me state the obvious here - I don't have a dog - BUT Karlee is the most passionate dog trainer I've ever met. She lives, talks, and breathes dog training, to the point where it's almost annoying (love you). Even if you don't plan on working with Karlee; following her on social media will offer some valuable insight to your dogs behaviours and ways to go about correcting it. What's better than some free advice?

The Livery Shop -

Are you really a photographer in Calgary, if you haven't shopped here? No. Located in the cutest barn in Inglewood, Camp Brand Goods is the only "outdoorsy" gear you will catch me wearing, that doesn't make me look like a lawn gnome. What I love the most is that they will partner with smaller businesses and makes space for "pop-up" vendors.

Mint and Daisy -

I debated putting Mint and Daisy on here, just due to the fact that Amelia is taking a hiatus right now. You might know Amelia's from her past with body-scrubs and lotions (which I'm currently scraping every last ounce of the ones I own). Whatever this girl takes on, she kills it. Her focus has shifted to plants and she now carries a beautiful stock of greenery. Amelia is always the first to help me when my plants are not thriving, and I've learnt so much from her. She's also my go-to gal when I see a plant and ask "what is that - I want it."

What are your favourite local businesses? I'd love to hear from you!

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