The Village of Clinton has been part of Northern Development Initiative Trust’s (NDIT) “Love Northern BC” program since early in 2019, but the recent launch of the “Love Clinton” website means that local businesses that have signed on can now get much wider exposure and showcase their goods and services for all to see via a dedicated online platform.
“We went full swing into ‘Love Northern BC’ in June of last year, but the website is now up and running,” says Clinton’s Community Development Coordinator Angela Smith. The process of getting Clinton involved in the program had started before Smith joined the Village in April 2019, but she says that it was still very new, and no businesses had enrolled.
“I reached out and told them about the perks of the program, and businesses started trickling in slowly. We now have six businesses on board. They’re not all on the website yet, but they’re in the process.”
Clinton is the 32nd community to join the “Love Northern BC” program, which started in 2011 as “Small Town Love”, a Quesnel-based grassroots initiative. Its purpose was to create an online platform to showcase and support local businesses that were competing against chain stores and online retail.
In 2016, NDIT expanded the program into a movement including 31 communities and spanning vast distances through ongoing committed funding and support. Through partnerships between the Trust and local community champions, the program has become “Love Northern BC”, which is the largest shop local program in Canada.
The cost to join “Love Clinton” is a one-time fee of $100, which gets each business the services of a professional writer and professional photographer (the latter based in Clinton).
The writer will work with the business to create a profile for the website, while the photographer takes pictures that showcase the business, its owners, and the goods and services it provides.
“It’s great for small businesses that have no capacity for an online presence,” says Smith. “That’s why I was excited about it. When people Google ‘Clinton’ they don’t get an idea of the businesses that are here. If you Google ‘Love Clinton’ you can see the businesses, which can make people say ‘Hey, let’s stop in Clinton and check them out.’”
Smith notes that businesses that enroll in the program can make changes to their online content, such as making updates to the profile or updating photos, at any time for no additional cost.
“That’s definitely an option they have. You don’t have to keep the same photos year after year. You can have new ones, or switch the photos out, and make changes to the print content.”
The “Love Clinton” program is open to local businesses, including home-based ones, as long as they are not part of a large chain or a franchise. “It has to be individually owned businesses.”
Smith says that the $100 fee that businesses pay to take part doesn’t go to NDIT. Instead, it stays in the community so that it can be used to help businesses through things like workshops and special promotions. One such promotion was last year’s “Plaid Friday” event on Nov. 29, which was held in conjunction with Clinton’s Christmas Madness shopping event.
Smith designed special cards which were handed out to participants, and anyone who spent a total of $50 or more in local shops on that night received a reusable “Love Clinton” bag.
The reward cards were a huge success, says Smith. “Even though it was a dreary, cold night, Clintonites stepped up to the plate and spent $2,000 in four hours.” The initiative was so well-received that Smith says they hope to bring it back this year, albeit with one or two tweaks.
“We have to come up with something more creative this year. We might make a couple of changes, maybe reach out to the school and see who has their babysitting certificate so we can offer babysitting while parents shop. Kids can run off some energy and it makes things a little less stressful.”
In a press release, Smith praised the program and what it can do for local businesses in the Clinton area.
“’Love Northern BC’ is an invaluable tool we can use to promote our local, independent businesses right here in Clinton. There are so many hidden gems in our community that people are missing out on. The ‘Love Clinton’ website is giving our businesses some well-deserved exposure!”
Any businesses interested in learning more about the “Love Clinton” program can contact Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. To check out the businesses that have already signed up, go to the “Love Clinton” website at www.loveclinton.com.