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30 businesses in 30 days: Fort McMurray real estate agent pushes shop local campaign for Christmas

A Fort McMurray realtor is trying to get people to shop local by creating a series called 30 businesses in 30 days.

Melanie Galea is promoting a business a day for 30 days to get people shopping at local businesses

Melanie Galea is promoting one business everyday for 30 days to drum up customers for local stores. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)

A Fort McMurray real estate agent is encouraging people shop local by creating a video series called 30 businesses in 30 days. 

This month, Melanie Galea started posting videos showcasing small businesses in Fort McMurray. From pet stores, to coffee roasters and spas, Galea has been trying to remind locals about what businesses they could be shopping from. 

"It just seemed like it was needed more than ever," said Galea. 

"These business owners are ready for Christmas." 

She said there are concerns that businesses are going to be shut down and several businesses have already closed during the pandemic and flood. 

"People are staying home, they're maybe not spending quite as much money. Some businesses are doing well, but I've seen businesses shut down because of what's happening right now." 

Galea did a similar promotion in 2015, making videos to showcase 30 businesses. Thirteen of those stores have since closed. 

Galea put a call out for businesses to contact her about making a video, and she was even surprised to find out about companies she had never heard of before. 

"It's great to see there are new businesses," said Galea. 

"The reaction has been fantastic."

Galea said her videos have even inspired former McMurrayites. She said a former Fort McMurray resident, now living in Edmonton, reached out to Galea to ask about buying gift cards from Fort McMurray shops. 

Carley Johnson sold her first bag of coffee in February. She's seen an uptick in customers since Melanie Galea posted a video about the coffee company. (Submitted by Carley Johnson)

The entire series took about 100 hours to create. She charged $50 per business to do the video, but it's costing her more than $250 per episode. 

"This is my give to the community," said Galea. She started filming the series in the beginning of October. 

Carley Johnson, owner of Firebag Coffee Company, started selling coffee and coffee accessories in February. She roasts coffee at her home in Fort McMurray and sells it online and at local markets. 

Since her video went live, she's had people reach out to her saying they didn't know her business existed and says her sales have increased. 

From left to right, Catharine Vangen, Michael Langille, Kimberly-Ann McGregor and Brandon Kelloway. Langille stands with the employees of his pet store; he says some people don't even know his shop is still open after the April flood. (Submitted by Michael Langille)

The company does free delivery in town, and she says they do about 25-30 orders a day. 

"Since the video's run I've probably had at least 5 to 10 new people contact me every day."

"It's wonderful," said Johnson. 

Michael Langille's video hasn't gone public yet — it's slated for Dec. 9. He's the owner of The Little Pet Company, which is in the midst of expanding.

"Some people think that we're still shut down since the flood," said Langille. "It's about broadcasting that we're here." 

He said many people thought the flood destroyed the shop, which it didn't. 

The store was "busier than ever" for the first few months of the pandemic, but recently noticed a "sgnificant change" in the number of customers coming in.

Langille said he doubled his store's inventory with the expansion, but "we're not seeing double the sales by any means."

"We might've seen a ten per cent increase, which is not what you want to see when you're expanding your business." 

He's hoping the video gets people coming into the store, and spending their dollars in town, rather than online. 

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