Shopping local means something different to me than it does to most of the people who read my blog or our newspaper, simply because of the geographical location I live in.

I am a rider and tend to, whenever possible shop with other riders who own small businesses, sadly all of them live hours and hours away from me but that does not stop me from supporting them.

I have always been a big proponent for shopping locally and in the rider community, for me, at least, that means shopping with small businesses on line.

I do a ton of my shopping on line because for me it makes sense.

I live in Grande Prairie Alberta and I am at least 5 hours by car to any other major centre where there is choice and selection.

In the GP region we have 2 Honda and Victory dealers in the area, 1 Yamaha dealer and one Harley Shop. Other than that there are no small business to buy gifts from if you are a rider looking for gifts for other riders.

When I go into these shops to gift shop, I seldom find what I am looking for.  It's no fault of theirs either, they can only carry so much stock and a lot of the gear they carry is directed at the dirt rider because motocross is huge here as is quadding. That's who their primary customer base is.

The one Victory shop deals in KTM and snow machines - so there is very little for me there.
The other is 40 K away and deals also in Honda and snow machines - again, other than service, there is nothing for gifts for someone like me there. The same is true of the Yamaha shop, they deal a lot in snow machines, boats and quads. I use their services for things like tire changes but beyond that there isn't a lot there for me either.

The Harley shop has lots of gift ideas however, a lot of the people I buy for do not ride Harley's and don't really want branded products for gifts.

There are no local aftermarket shops, no leather shops that are geared to the rider, no gift shops that carry rider specific gift

The bulk of my shopping is done by visiting the shops of the little guys on line, people I know or have met while on bike trips and I liked their product ranges.

As a small business owner whose kid is all grown up, I don't spend a ton on Christmas; one good present for hubby and small gifts for the daughter and her husband along with stocking stuffers for everyone.  The rest of the gifts I buy tend to be stocking stuffers or smaller gifts for the people who work for and with me.

I support small businesses in the riding community like Grizzly Leather, West Coast Roar, Leather & Steel, artists like Mark Mullen and Gypsy's Art, Ken the Glassdude or ...just to mention a few.

For me - that is shopping locally, even though Gypsy is in Red Deer AB, Grizzly is in Calgary AB, West Coast Roar is in Mill Bay BC on Vancouver Island, Leather & Steel is in Fruitvale BC, Ken is in Regina SK and Mark Mullen is in Keswick ON.

I love on line shopping for a number of reasons.

I can shop at 5 in the morning when I am taking my first coffee break of the day.
There are no crowds to battle and I find the customer service to be excellent with most small businesses who have a presence on line.

I like the fact that I can cruise through these web sites and if I am not sure of fit or style, I can call them, talk to them, send measurements etc.

Because they know me, they can help me out.

If they don't have what I am looking for they can generally get it for me and have it drop shipped for me or to me, so while Canada Post, can be expensive, it affords me the luxury of supporting my community by shopping with the rider owned businesses that I have come to love.

The other upside is that I don't have to spend hours in a vehicle driving in winter conditions - so using Canada Post actually becomes more financially viable for me too not to mention safer.

Lots of times when I call these small businesses I find out about other products that are similar to what I am looking for or they tell me about great deals they have....

Online shopping is not for everyone, but for this Northerner, it makes sense, I get what I need from people I like, people who are members of my community, the riding community.

I do what I can to support the little guys - the people who like me, are working at their passion because after all, small business is the backbone of this great nation of ours.

Yes, shopping local is different for me - what does it mean to you? I'd love to know.

Have a fabulous Wednesday

Belt Drive Betty
Editor & Rider

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