|Love Notes ~ Another Canadian icon slipping away|
|Local Content - Opinions|
|Written by Marcia Love|
|Wednesday, 08 February 2012 21:58|
|It's always sad to see a home-grown Canadian company overcome by its competition. I was disappointed to learn of the recent fall of two of Canada’s top businessmen and the steep slide of one of the country's most popular innovations. I'm talking about Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, who relinquished their positions as co-CEOs of Research in Motion. BlackBerries once dominated the market by 50 per cent – now it's only 15. Pretty shocking. It was only five years ago that I was a resident of Kitchener-Waterloo, the home of RIM and birthplace of the BlackBerry. At that time, the company was booming as the mother of the revolutionary new phone, which was the pride of the cities and so addictive and commonly affixed to every businessman's hand that it bore the nickname "crackberry." Who would have thought the great pioneer of the technological world could go downhill so fast? But a big reason the BlackBerry was quick to drop in popularity was because RIM failed to evolve its smartphone when more advanced spin-offs came along. It's unfortunate, but it's the reality. You can develop an amazing product or service, but if it doesn't change with the times and evolve for customer needs, it's going to die. People aren't going to pay more if they can get a cheaper, more effective or advanced product somewhere else. The same principle can be applied when it comes to supporting other Canadian-made goods and services. Mom and pop stores don’t stand much of a chance anymore when the conglomerates that have everything you need in one place are only an hour away. For small-town businesses to be viable competitors to big box city stores, operators have to give consumers something the big city can't – whether it's great deals for continuous support or simply a place for locals to go and receive amazing service from one of their friends or neighbours. Business owners and staff that guarantee customers a smile, good conversation and a laugh have more of an impact than they know. The crowds and traffic of a trip to the big city are less appealing to me when I know I can just as easily get what I need from the Co-op and have the added satisfaction of harassing food market manager Keith Friendship at the same time. That's not something I could get nearly the same enjoyment out of if I took my grocery shopping to Medicine Hat where I have no connection to the employees. Many businesses in town already offer great deals to dedicated customers and have fun, cheerful employees, and I’m sure they have reaped the benefits. We can keep urging people to support their community's economy, but in the end it all comes down to saving money. This is the reasoning many residents give for their long excursions to shop in the city, and it will take more than simply asking people to shop local to get them to break that habit. When the going gets tough, the tough get creative, and that's what it takes for businesses to survive – especially in small towns. Most people may not even know how much local businesses need the support, because it's often not until it's too late that we find out a business is suffering. Let's hope it doesn't take the closure of more local businesses for people to realize these are a big part of what makes the community.|
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