'Shop The Neighbourhood' comes to Edmonton for first time

People hunting that perfect Christmas gift on Saturday were encouraged to Shop The Neighbourhood, a national program aimed at supporting local businesses.

National program intended to encourage people to spend money in local stores

Jill Hestbak at Laurel's On Whyte says local businesses build relationships with their customers and offer unique items not found in big-box stores. (CBC)

People hunting that perfect Christmas gift on Saturday were encouraged to Shop The Neighbourhood, a national program aimed at supporting local businesses.

The event, sponsored by Yellow Pages, came to Edmonton for the first time this year.

Wade Horb, senior sales manager for Yellow Pages, said this is usually the busiest shopping weekend before Christmas. Over the last three years, the initiative has seen more than $80 million spent in local shops across the country, he said.

"When you reinvest into local small- to medium-sized businesses, they're like the backbone of our economy," Horb said. "They produce jobs."

Yellow Pages partnered with several local business groups, including those in Old Strathcona and on 124th Street.

At Laurel's On Whyte, a floral design shop, Jill Hestbak said local businesses build relationships with their customers and offer unique items that can't be found in big-box stores.

"We really appreciate the initiative to foster a sense of community," she said. "Especially in this neighbourhood, where small businesses used to reign and now a lot of bigger businesses are coming in."

Kendre Parke was out doing some Christmas shopping on Whyte Avenue.

"We love supporting local business, and we think it's really important," she said. "Local business keeps the economy going. It's really part of the culture of the city."