Winnipeg woman on a mission to buy Canadian, bypass American products at the grocery store

When Sheila Molloy shops for groceries she’s taking a closer look at the labels and being a lot more choosy about which items end up at the checkout. Products made locally or in Canada get the green light, and items that are made in the U.S are put back on the shelf.

Sheila Molloy says Trump tariffs, tiff with Trudeau, were final push toward buying local

Sheila Molloy is trading in her usual brands for ones that are either made locally or have some kind of connection to Canada. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

When Sheila Molloy shops for groceries she's taking a closer look at the labels and being a lot more choosy about which items end up at the checkout.

Products made locally or in Canada get the green light, and items that are made in the U.S are put back on the shelf.

"A lot of people use the word boycott, I actually am thinking of this more optimistically and positively – I'm just going pro-Canadian," said Molloy.

Molloy said it all started two months ago when she and her husband were considering vacation destinations and were reluctant to go south of the border.

"We hadn't realized how frustrated we were feeling, or I guess, [how] insulted we were feeling until we said, 'Where are we going on holiday?' And both my husband and I said, 'You know what, let's stay in Canada … let's keep our money here,'" she said.

See how Sheila Molloy picks her groceries:

When Sheila Molloy shops for groceries she's taking a closer look at the labels and being a lot more choosy about which items end up at the checkout. 1:48

The source of the couple's frustration was the trade battle between Canada and the U.S, in which President Donald Trump took swipes at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Twitter.

"When a business partner starts insulting your CEO, essentially, as well as the rest of your country, it started to really build, I suppose as close as we can get in Canada, to feeling fury, anger," said Molloy.

"[Canadians] are pretty passive on a lot of things but this isn't the time for that anymore," she said.

"They're treating us like we're irrelevant, so let's find out how irrelevant we are by making a stand."

'I realized it's about habit'

The 47-year-old is now filling her cart first with Manitoba-made products and Canadian brands, then giving priority to products from countries that have a good trade relationship with Canada.

"Mexico on my list is OK. Anybody who is willing to do business with us internationally, who are still our friends and treating us well, I think that's great," she said.

Molloy says she looks for labels that tell her where the item was made. If it's not clear she doesn't buy it. (John Einarson/CBC)

Molloy also considers products made by American companies with Canadian subsidiaries.

"That's kind of my last resort," she said.

Anything that is solely made in the U.S. is left out completely, and possibly for good.

Molloy says she's always tried to dine and shop locally,  but never looked too closely at her shopping habits.

"The marketing is out there … buy local, buy local … and while we try to here, you get into your convenience," she said.

"I realized it's about habit, and maybe it's just  time to break some of those habits and see what [else] is around instead."

Now she goes shopping equipped with a list of brands she's done her homework on.

Molloy says she looks for Manitoba brands first and then chooses Canadian and international products over American ones. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

"I was delighted to find out that a lot of the products we were already buying were Canadian-made," said Molloy.

"You make some different decisions now, and maybe a few small lifestyle changes, but they're not going to be that dramatic," she said.

She hopes by giving her money to Canadian companies, she'll make a dent in America's pocketbook.

"If everybody did a little bit, it's going to make a big difference, so maybe we won't be so irrelevant all of a sudden."

'It's simple and fun'

Molloy isn't throwing out everything in her pantry, but rather replacing items as she goes through them.

She knows there will be some difficult decisions down the road.

"I have a challenge coming and it's on toilet paper," said Molloy, noting most major brands are made in the U.S.

"There will be some items, like for instance like bourbon, that one will be tough," she said.

Molloy says some Canadian products are clearly labelled, while others need a bit of research before she buys them. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

"In those cases I think it's time for us to discover small-batch gin from Canada."

Molloy says she spends about an hour a week doing research for items she knows she will need, and visits a few extra stores to find what she's looking for, including local butcher shops and bakeries.

She says most household products do have a Canadian option, and she's enjoying discovering new brands to swap out for her old ones.

"There is so much great stuff happening right here in Manitoba and in Canada," she said.

Molloy is also considering expanding her purchasing power to clothing and shoes and is beginning to research Canadian companies.

Molloy says part of the fun of buying local is discovering new and delicious products she's never tried before. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

She plans to continue supporting local no matter what happens south of the border,

"It's simple and fun, and it benefits the country, so why wouldn't I keep doing it forever?"

She's sharing her research with friends and family and has others interested in doing the same.

"I think we can make a difference," said Molloy.

"If we just all focus on this, the benefit is that we're now going to be conscientious of who is Canadian and who we're buying from locally."

Trump tariffs, tiff with Trudeau, were final push toward buying local 2:11

About the Author

Holly Caruk

Video Journalist

Holly Caruk is a video journalist with CBC Manitoba. She began her career as a photo journalist in 2007 and began reporting in 2015. Born and raised in Manitoba, Holly is a graduate of the University of Manitoba's film studies program and Red River College's creative communications program. Email: holly.caruk@cbc.ca