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At grocer-café combo that sells local wares, praise for efforts of small businesses

The Neighbourly Cafe and ­Grocer in the Old Town District is a revival of the general store. You can buy groceries and some dry goods there, pick up a gift, even grab a coffee and sandwich. And it’s a shining example for Small Business Month.
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Promoting small business, from left, Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps make purchases at Neighbourly Café and Grocer in Victoria. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

The Neighbourly Cafe and ­Grocer in the Old Town District is a revival of the general store.

You can buy groceries and some dry goods there, pick up a gift, even grab a coffee and sandwich.

And it’s a shining example for Small Business Month.

The majority of the goods sold at Neighbourly are sourced from local producers such as bakers, coffee roasters and food and textile makers.

“We’re not in competition with small business, we’re ­supporting small businesses locally,” said Neighbourly spokeswoman ­Karlie Scheifelle.

The grocer and café at 2031 Store St. is part of the space operated by Kwench, a business that provides creative studios, work spaces and offices for entrepreneurs. Many of the companies who have offices there, such as Fatso Peanut Butter and the Dumpling Drop, also provide goods to the store.

Scheifelle calls it a win-win, adding the store promotes a no-plastic policy and uses refillable jars for items such as sugar, grains, candy and other bulk items.

In B.C., 98% of businesses fall into the small-business category. Challenges of the pandemic persist for these entrepreneurs, and officials say it’s vital that Victorians continue to support local when making buying decisions.

“Small businesses are the heart of our downtown,” said Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. “During the pandemic, we saw the power of shopping local as we supported small businesses and their employees.”

Small Business Month is a perfect time to continue showing support.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the city’s Build Back ­Victoria program, which includes a streamlined hub for small businesses to obtain a licence and find space, is ­helping entrepreneurs.

“We’ve seen businesses innovate and expand space for services,” she said. “Now is a more important time than ever to shop local and support our neighbours, friends and family members that run the small businesses in the city.”

Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, called small businesses “the lifeblood of our community.”

“Businesses are truly grateful for the ongoing support throughout our region. That generosity of spirit creates a vibrancy and optimism that we all need as we head into the holiday season.”

dkloster@timescolonist.com