A Christmas Letter

Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of working with many of Halifax’s great independent retailers & restauranteurs to create I Love Local HFX. To be honest, I started this group as a way to help market our own businesses and to highlight the unique nature of our community’s independent businesses. What has happened along the way though is something that has restored my faith in our ability to come together as a community, to work together, to live together, and to make Halifax, and Nova Scotia, an even greater place to live.

So many times we lose sight of the fact that we are a small community, but one that is rich in diversity, rich in history and rich in spirit. As a community we got excited when Price Club opened in the new Bayer’s Lake – it was shiny and new and somehow marked our arrival as a “big city”. Over the next 20 years we rolled out the red carpet for international retailers to open stores in Halifax, while at the same time bemoaning the decline of our downtowns, & our loss of “community”.

Today, many people are questioning that wisdom, and are indeed longing for the days when we knew our neighbors, and knew our shopkeepers.

15-20 years ago, we celebrated being able to get Budweiser here, today, we stand in line outside Garrison Brewing for Brian’s annual Spruce Beer release.

Not that long ago, we would have welcomed a Pizza Hut, today we celebrate the creations of Jennie & her team at Morris East.

For a while we enjoyed the speed of chain restaurants, today we enjoy learning about our food and chatting with Dennis @ Fid, with Craig @ Chives, or with Andy @ DaMaurizio.

Today, we celebrate when young guys like George at Brooklyn Warehouse can go to work with his Dad, Leo, & garner national attention for their fantastic food and cozy neighborhood vibe.

Today, we take to twitter and brag about the unique finds we got from Andrea @ Inkwell, or from Chara @ Love, Me – not about the find at Winners.

Today, our kids ask to go to Woozles or Uncommon Kids because they are free to wander around and play with the toys and parents don’t have to fear losing them in a 50,000 square foot box.

This year we watched as a community came together to rescue a cat outside Boneheads BBQ, or to raise money for Hope for Wildlife after a deer jumped through the window at Uncommon Grounds.

We also watched as a group of community members including Andrew from Cyclesmith, Joachim from Trail Shop and Jeff from Kula Partners rallied the broader community to save the Oval, and tomorrow we will celebrate the Grand Opening of our new, permanent Oval.

This year we watched how a group of volunteers could bring together our arts community in the biggest Nocturne event ever, and I Love Local HFX was proud to help showcase this event.

Buy Local initiatives have their supporters and their detractors – thankfully, we are adding supporters every day and the level of consciousness surrounding our local shopkeepers, butchers, fishmongers & chefs is at a level that we haven’t seen in a very long time.

I don’t believe that multi-national retailers are evil, or that local businesses are puritans. I do believe though that locally owned businesses are a vital part of our community and that the group of businesses that have chosen to join me with I Love Local HFX do a damn fine job of supporting countless organizations in Halifax. We don’t do it because it is a corporate policy, we do it because we live here – our kids go to school here, we play sports here, we care about our parks, our playgrounds, and what our kids eat – We do it, because, like you, we love Halifax.

So, as you’re getting ready to enjoy time with your friends & family over the Holidays, I want to thank you for patronizing all of these businesses and for helping us to make Halifax the best it can be.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Gordon Stevens

follow us on twitter @ILoveLocalHFX

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