Shopping local is now all fun and games

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Shop Local bingo cards set to launch for holiday shopping

The Chamber of Commerce in Fort Frances is promoting their “Christmas Shop Local” campaign to incentivise residents to shop from local businesses during the Christmas season.

Heather Johnson, executive director at the Chamber of Commerce, said this campaign is a partnership between the chamber and the downtown Business Improvement Association (BIA).

The goal of this campaign is to encourage Fort Frances residents to shop local by having bingo cards with names of participating businesses.

Johnson said when residents shop at a participating business, the box dedicated for that business is stamped. One row of the bingo card has to be stamped in order to be entered into a meat draw.

“The bingo cards are all going to go in for a draw,” Johnson said. “And we’re going to draw three meat packages on December the 20th.”

The three meat packages are Where’s the Beef, Don’t Chicken Out and Bringing Home the Bacon. Each package will be worth $100.

Once the winners have been drawn, Johnson will arrange for delivery to make sure someone is at home.

Bingo cards can be picked up at participating businesses. Johnson said she can also email the bingo cards. Johnson’s email is

Residents who wish to participate in the draw can take a picture of the bingo card and email it to Johnson, or they can drop the card off at the chamber office at 601 Mowat Ave.

Johnson said she is still in the process of getting more businesses on board.

“It’s been a good response so far,” Johnson said. “We might even get two different bingo cards, if I can get enough businesses signed up, that would be great.”

There is also another Shop Local Campaign, which is an agreement between the Ontario government and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

The government gave the Fort Frances, Kenora, Red Lake and Dryden chambers a grant of $98,000 to be spent on promoting local shopping in the region.

The campaign is set to expire on Jan. 31, 2022.

Johnson said there is a person out of the chamber in Thunder Bay who helps run both Thunder Bay’s shop local and our region’s shop local.

“They’ve done some videos and a few things for the ads that will be going out to local businesses,” Johnson said. “A media company did all that themselves by interviewing and talking to people and phoning them.”

Johnson said there will also be an online contest where one person from Fort Frances, Dryden, Red Lake and Kenora will each win a $250 gift basket of local items.

“And then there’s going to be an overall $1,000 basket prize filled with products from all four chambers of $250 each,” Johnson added.

Johnson said the goal of this grant is to try and get some businesses up and running and to encourage residents to not shop outside of The District.

“We need to keep the dollars here,” Johnson said. “The local small businesses are trying to survive too. And if we don’t support them, we may not have them next year.”

Johnson added they want residents to pick their hometown businesses first before they go on Amazon.

She said 80 cents of every dollar spent in the community stays in the community.

“It’s a good investment back into your community,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the businesses are receiving the Shop Local campaigns very well because they are not having to advertise on their own.

“We’re kind of there to give them a boost and promote shop local all the time,” Johnson said. “They can now focus on having their own media and everything put forth for their own business.”