Mr Jay Mackenzie of Roosters brought this issue up again in a recent inadvertently widely distributed 'open' letter to current and past town officials, on advice given indirectly from the town to local school personnel re the Provincial Basketball Championship Banquet held here in Magrath. Mr Mackenzie contends the school officials were advised to purchase everything outside of Magrath and that that a number of local businesses who do catering in this community were thereby not given a chance to provide a quote. This highlights the need for better communication from the Magrath Chamber on our message of the spin off benefits of supporting local businesses.
We anticipate a lively discussion on this topic at our upcoming chamber meeting(s). We encourage the debate and have kind feelings toward all the involved individuals, who despite their opposing opinions each have done much to support and improve our town. As Jay concludes: "We are after all a community; I support this community whole-heartedly both financially and with a huge amount of my time and I would hope to have the same support and efforts from our community leaders, past or present."
What do you think?
Editors Note: We had originally simply posted the letter as received and were somewhat surprised at the reaction. We never named names or intended to take sides, we were just simply attempting to report issues that pertain significantly to members of our Chamber (the letter was intended for town/chamber consideration but 'escaped' out into the social media somehow). However, we welcome the discussion on this important topic and will seek further comment from all interested or involved parties .. as to how it was released to social media: I am so, so, so sorry. The Chamber Executive issued an official apology letter (22 Mar) to affected parties.
"Is Magrath Chamber supporting this letter or was it posted by a disgruntled business person? All of us in this town buy in lethbridge at one time or another and the person in question was asked what he thought. It does not matter if he was a past councilman. a town worker nor if he is black, green or white. I find it interesting how people are jumping on this business's bandwagon when I have seen all of them shopping in lethbridge. The fact the school people claim they never thought of buying from local people makes me wonder if people from this town are really that ignorant of what we have here in our community or trying to just save their bacon. I think throwing sour grapes out because someone gave advice to buy somewhere else is very petty and makes me question what the Chamber is all about. If I do not buy from someone in town, am I going to get blasted through a website? I think this hurts a business worse when they use the bully approach to make us shop in our community. Better education to get the community to shop local would be a better approach"
"Businesses in Magrath don't have absolutely everything anyone would want or need to buy, so of course, you have to go to Lethbridge for certain items. That's not the point. If everyone supported businesses here and bought local - business owners would be able to afford to expand and offer more to their customers (and create more jobs). Council members past and present know this and should respect it. Public organizations or functions should look in town first, and allow others a chance at least. If this kind of thing happened once or twice, fine. But it happens all the time. It seems unless you are in the right family or have the right connections, its impossible for some businesses to get any kind of support! Who better is there to stand up to this problem more than Magrath Chamber? An organization built to support town businesses? If they aren't allowed to say anything then who is?"
"....pointing fingers at councillors is not the answer..everyone should respect local businesses and try to help support them. I agree public organizations or functions should look at buying locally but they still have their right to purchase wherever they want. The issue I was making was not about support but the way the letter was written to shame a person. I would think it would be more professional to call the person and talk to them one on one to get their side of the story instead of flaming them here on facebook. I think you throwing the "Unless you are in the right family or have right connections" has nothing to do with this. The letter was written by the owner of Roosters who then posted it on the Magrath Chambers facebook page. As you read the letter he even stated he was going to bring it up at the next chamber meeting. That makes it sound to me, that this was not a statement from the Chamber. I looked for the mission statement on the Magrath Chamber website but could not find it but on most other chamber sites it talks about advocating for and promoting local businesses to ensure a positive climate in the community. I am sure the person the letter was flaming will respond and his side of the story will be here for all of us to read. Whether he responds or not, what I said I strongly believe..flaming people publicly is not the best way to encourage them or others to shop local.."
"I understand the sentiment behind this letter..... however. (And I'm speaking as someone who has been, until recently, in retail for a couple years) Might I suggest a more proactive and less reactive approach in the future.
1. It was well known this event was on the horizon. What prevented the local businesses from presenting their "quotes" or offers ahead of time.
2. I agree that the suggestion, especially from a former councilor, should have been "check local first". However, he is free to suggest whatever he/she wishes. And might I add.... that suggestion may have been made!
3. I imagine there was a budget for the event and local business would need to be competitive...... guess we would need to see the offers before we all made judgement openly on that.
4. I imagine the "school representatives" were largely local parents and volunteers who did an amazing job of the banquet and should not feel badly about their decisions in this matter. If they did not realize that this level of event could be serviced competitively by local business.... now they do.
5. Was this meant to be an open letter?
6. In the future, plan ahead and get your quotes in early."
"To the members of the Magrath Chamber of Commerce in regards to the above letter. I would very much encourage your membership and your Town Council to take seriously the wise words of owner Jay Mackenzie. Shopping local, but more importantly thinking local is so vitally important to the health of a small community. Not only does a place like Roosters Country Market offer employment for your youth, and adults alike, not only does such a place provide unrecognised support to local events, but more importantly a business such a Rooster's Country Market weaves itself into the very fabric of your community. Yes it might be easier and more convenient to stop somewhere in Lethbridge while you happen to be in the big city,...but think of the dollars you are robbing from your own community and the sense of ownership and belonging you are taking away from yourselves and your town. Would a Lethbridge store really carry a particular item just because it knew you and your family liked it? Would a big box store personally deliver items to shut in seniors in your community, would said seniors even live in a community that didn't offer such a personal services? Having local people, who live and breathe your community is a DYING ASSET. The Town of High River post flood is intensely aware of the need to build a vibrant business community, one that employs and supports your town. Without a tax base of business your residential property taxes become much higher and that's something you all moved away from the city to avoid. Once a place like Rooster's Country Market is gone from your community it will never be replaced. I urge you to think long and hard about how you show your support for your local businesses. It cannot be just lip service. THE CHAMBER AND THE COUNCIL SHOULD BE THE BIGGEST SUPPORTERS OF LOCAL ANYTHING !!!!"
"Made me sad to read this Jay, what a poor decision!"
"Town businesses should at least be given a chance to quote on things like that. We have been ignored in the past too."
"Sorry to hear about that Jay, I know from experience local is always better!"
"This reminds me of a fable. A man opens a bag of feathers and the wind (Facebook ) carries them off. Now he needs to recollect them so his friends (Chamber) tries to help recollect them."
"G&K Parker Electric would like our community to know we are truly sorry for the angry attack submitted via the website by a member of our Chamber. Typically anything that goes out should run past the group and be approved before submitted to the community. We were embarrassed by it and so have made many calls to understand what happened. This particular letter was supposed to be reviewed, discussed, and voted on in a private method as to how to proceed. Somehow it was accidentally submitted with no knowledge by the Chamber as a group. As a member of Magrath's Chamber of Commerce we are seeking for ways to help businesses be successful here. As a business owner, we do not expect that jobs from this community will simply come our way because we live here. We find the work ourselves and submit quotes. If it doesn't come our way we seek out other opportunities. This letter was an unprofessional outburst and a huge slip of procedures. Local shoping is an issue, but in no way means that community members are required to contact every business in town before they can make a decision as to who they will use. Having said that, I am well aware of a person in our community who does their best to do just that. Many people were contacted and many questions were asked previous to purchases being made. Of course opinion will vary on the matter but we (Greg & I) do not agree with how this letter was expressed and apologize for the hurt it has caused. We will do our best to encourage the Chamber to correct it and see that nothing remotely close happens again.