By LeRae Haynes –
Small Town Love Williams Lake is a unique program that brings local, independently-owned businesses to the forefront, supports and promotes them, and reminds us all how important they are to our local economy.
Heidi Jakubec, Love Williams Lake champion, said she’s thoroughly enjoyed getting to know local business owners and hearing their stories. Jakubec started on as program manager last year after the Love Williams Lake launch in Boitanio Park.
“It’s something I believe in personally; I find it amazing and fascinating,” she said. “I feel so lucky to be asked to take on this program. So many people want good things for the City—for it to be prosperous, and a good place to shop and eat and play.”
She said word is really starting to get out, adding there is a beautiful new Love Williams Lake sign at the Tourism Discovery Centre.
There are about 1,800 businesses in 30 communities in interior/northern BC participating in Small Town Love.
“Small Town Love was started by a woman from Quesnel named Amy Quarry, who had a vision to get people excited about small businesses in their communities,” said Jakubec.“The website started with lovequesnel.com and grew from there. It supports non-franchised, locally-owned businesses.”
Small Town Love Williams Lake recently partnered with the Downtown Business Improvement Association to do the Hunt for the Heart program.
Love Northern BC said for every $100 spent in a locally-owned business, up to $75 stays in the community, and shopping local paves the way for new jobs, growth, and a healthy economy, and keeps creative, entrepreneurial people in the community.
Jakubec explained that in the works is a Facebook contest where people stand next to the new sign at the TDC and post it on the Love Williams Lake FB page. “The winner gets ‘Love Bucks’ to spend at one of the 72 local businesses who are participating,” she said.
“It only costs $100 to join; more businesses are signing up all the time. When you sign up, you get a web presence at lovewilliamslake.com, a professional photo shoot, and professional write-up about the entrepreneur and their business.”
Northern Development Initiative Trust(NDIT) is the backing behind the lovewilliamslake.com website, providing the funding, marketing support, website maintenance, and social media support.
The City of Williams Lake has been extremely receptive to this program and eager to support it, according to Jakubec, who said they did a beautiful job on the new Love Williams Lake sign at the Tourism Discovery Centre.
She noted the professional photographer who does the photos for Love Williams Lake is Rick Magnell from Magnell Photography. “He does such beautiful work,” she said.
“I think one of the most important things a small business can do to bring their customers back is to listen to their customers and hear what they have to say. Twenty years ago we were always told that the customer is always right.
“I don’t always believe that, but I think if you listen, you can learn and change outcomes.”Communities are as individual as the people who live in them, and Small Town Love is a program that reflects that, she continued. “Our businesses are all lovely in their own right.
“When we shop local we’re looking after our neighbours,” she said.“They live here and their kids go to school with our kids. And the dollars spent in local small businesses support things like Walk for a Cure, the SPCA, sports for kids, and countless fundraisers,” she said.“The enormity of that is never lost on me.”
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, community co-ordinator for Success by 6, member of Perfect Match dance band, and instigator of lots of music with kids.