LaLa’s: Unique Products From a Retailer That Supports Good Local Owned Companies Everywhere

LaLas_driveLaLa’s is an independently owned and operated gift store with locations in Deep Cove and Commercial Drive. LaLa’s are fashion forward gift stores known for it’s unique products, beautiful merchandizing and friendly knowledgeable staff. Their goal is to put the Ooh LaLa into gift giving and receiving! LaLa’s was established in 1996 in Deep Cove North Vancouver. Opened in 2013, LaLa’s on the Drive is the younger sibling to LaLa’s in the Cove.

Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?
Answer: First and foremost, we buy from people we like! They are people, places and companies that share our values and want to put “Eco” back in economics. Local is important to us because when LaLas_ByTheNumbersGraphicFileI see someone I’m doing business with they are more than a customer, they are a friend and neighbour. We source B.C. local made products when we can – we buy jams from Langley and peanut butter from Vancouver. Since it’s so expensive to manufacture in B.C., we think it’s just as important to support family-run businesses elsewhere in Canada and the US. We don’t consider the BC or Canada-US border as a barrier to localism! For example, one of our suppliers (Old World Christmas) is a 3rd generation run Oregan, Washingto-based company. We love their product. It used to be made in Spokane, but now they manufacture in China. The owners don’t just use any Chinese factory – they have a financial investment in the factory, so they don’t just control the end product, but how people are hired and how they are treated as employees. That’s so important to us – that people are treated well no matter where something comes from.

Question: What social practices are you proud of?
Answer: I’m most proud of running a small business successfully, for being able to provide good jobs so that upwards of a dozen people can pay their rent. Beyond that, the relationship I have with my employees is key. I love each and every one of them so much, their pictures and profiles are up on our website. That’s unusual for retail businesses that often have high turnover. Also, I have a manager for my two stores, and she’s more than an employee – she’s helped me build the business and I wanted to recognize that. So as I’ve done my succession planning, I’ve given her first offer to purchase the store. If she doesn’t buy it and it’s sold to someone else, she’ll get a percentage of the sale. In the case of my death, I made sure that for each year that she stays with LaLa’s her share in the company increases to the point where it is hers outright.

We also do a lot of charitable giving. Rather than hand out small gift certificates, we support all the local schools with auctions and give something more substantial – we usually donate $1000 for school auctions.

Question: What environmental practices are you proud of?
Answer: We make an effort to support local producers to keep the impact of shipping low. We will often buy from small local owned companies in the US, and know that we are still supporting independent businesses and good livelihoods in another place. We recycle, re-use and monitor our ecological footprint when it comes to travel and shipping methods. We voice our opinion to suppliers about what kind of packaging they are using to ship to us and ask to have materials that we can disposed of in an ethical manner. We encourage walking, riding and transit as options to get to and from LaLa’s when possible.

Donald’s Market: Supporting Local Suppliers & Greening Operations

Donald'sPhoto_2 Donald’s Market is a local family-owned grocery store owned by three brothers and a friend. The newest of the Donald’s locations is in River Market New Westminster, is run by Eric Siu. At Donald’s Market you won’t find many mainstream brands. What you will find is a focus on providing more local products, economical organics, and environmentally friendly cleaning, and health and beauty products.

Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?

Donalds_ByTheNumbersGraphicFileAnswer: Donald’s Market will always look to purchase local produce and products with equal prices and quality to what may be available from the US or elsewhere. And because Donald’s is a local, family-owned structure, it’s easier for us to support local producers and suppliers. If someone brings me a new product and I can see it’s something our customers will like, I can get it on the shelves quickly. We love being able to support local made and local grown products in a way that other larger grocery stores wouldn’t be able to do.

Question: How else do you support your local community?

Answer: Unique to Donald’s Market in New Westminster is the ONE program, a partnership with River Market. We give back 1% to the customer AND to the community. At the end of the year, customers who sign-up for the One Program get to vote on which community activity to sponsor or donate the money towards.

Question: How do you support the environment?

Answer: What makes us different from a conventional grocery store is some of the practices that reduce our environmental footprint. All of our stores have compostable meat trays, energy efficient coolers and lighting systems, and make an effort to divert waste from landfills through recycling and composting. Food waste can be a large percentage of waste for grocery stores and we make an effort to keep as much as possible out of the landfill.

Modo: Leading Car Sharing in North America & Enabling Local Community Organizations

burrard_test_photoModo is a member-owned not-for-profit carsharing co-op with 300+ locations in Metro Vancouver. It started in Vancouver’s West End in 1997, was the first carsharing co-operative in North America and the first English-speaking carshare in the world! Modo helped carsharing start up on four continents, and they continue to lend a helping hand whenever they can. Modo donates carsharing to support the great work of more than 60 local organizations, including Take a Hike Foundation, Qmunity, Eastside Culture Crawl and farmers markets across the region.

ModoByTheNumbersQuestion: How are you supporting other local businesses?

Answer: Vehicles are our biggest purchases, and we don’t have any local made options, but we do purchase about 20% of vehicles from local owned companies. A similar amount – about 20% of office supplies and vehicle related consumables like oil – are also sourced from local owned companies. On all our other purchases we make a huge effort to buy from local owned companies and buy local made products. 100% of our creative is from local owned companies – from branding and design, to printing and vehicle decals. Between 90–100% of all services are from local owned companies. 90% of our vehicle servicing is done locally, all of our software contracting has been to BC companies, and all our other services like cleaning, accounting, banking, marketing, legal and financial services are local.

Question: What social practices are you proud of?

Answer: Modo is strives to be an excellent employer, reflecting the communities in which we’re based. We’re proud of our hiring record among the queer and disabled communities, and would like to promote racial diversity among staff. Since we were a carsharing leader, a lot of fledging organizations reach out to us for guidance. We’ve helped to mentor, support and promote many smaller carshare co-ops around the country. We also enable the work of great local community groups by donating carsharing services.

Question: What environmental practices are you proud of?

Answer: Carsharing means fewer cars are on the road, and that means fewer greenhouse gas emissions and less traffic in our region. So our whole business model has an environmental benefit. Modo drivers produce 0.32 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents a year, which is 10–36 times less than the average driver. More than 40% of our members get rid of a car within one year of joining, accounting for 3,000 less cars on the road so far. We reduce our office’s footprint through office composting and comprehensive recycling. We only use green and homemade cleaners for our office, and usually opt for homemade cleaners for our car interior cleanings as well. We’ve only ever used 100% post-consumer recycled paper, even back in 1997 when that meant a poorer and beige-r paper quality. And we are increasingly moving toward a paper-light office. We’re part of some key programs to reduce our footprint – we’ve done our Climate Smart inventory, and have participated in the Fraser Basin Council’s Fleet Right Sizing.

Aphrodite’s Organic Café & Pie Shop: Committed to Organic and Local

Peggy photoAphrodite’s Organic Café and Pie Shop was founded in 2002 by Allan Christian. He was working and living on the Glen Valley Organic Farm Co-op in the Fraser Valley. He first opened the Pie Shop and then 1 year later he opened the café, harvesting vegetables from the farm to serve in the restaurant. His daughter Peggy took over when Allan passed away in 2008. She is committed to keeping her father’s legacy alive by continuing to bring local organic food to the city.

Question: How do you support other local businesses?

Answer: We are committed to organic local products. Our produce is as local as you can get. We also have a seasonal menu to maximize what we can get local grown in season. During the summer, 95% of our produce is local grown. We buy most of that direct from the farmers. In winter we use local owned distributor Discovery Organics, who works to help small scale Certified Organic farmers here at home gain access to the larger commercial marketplace. The flour in our pasty is local made by Anita’s Organic Mill in Chilliwack from Canadian grains. We serve organic beer and wine. All our wines are organic, and we serve bottle organic beer. We just sourced a new local organic draft beer from Dogwood Brewery.

AphroditesByTheNumbersFor all our other products and services, we look for local whenever possible. We bought our uniforms from an east Vancouver supplier/manufacturer called Blackwood Apparel, we buy green cleaners and compostable take-out from Wisent Environmental, we bank with Vancity, and our accountant lives down the street!

Question: How else do you support your local community?

Answer: We try hard to be an excellent place to work. We provide higher than industry average wages. For instance, our line cooks make up to 20% more. We also give our employees extended benefits after they’ve worked with us for 6 months. We have a very low turnover rate – if you want people to commit to you, you need to commit to them.

We also support local charities and non-profits by donating thousands of dollars worth of gift certificates every year for their events and fundraising activities.

Question: How do you support the environment?

Answer: Our commitment to organic is probably the biggest way. And of course, our commitment to supporting local farmers. Changing the Catering Business through Locally Sourced Foods and Compostable Packaging was created as a greener and tastier alternative to the usual catered fare, delivered in environmentally unsustainable packaging to offices. As a co-owner of Tacofino,’s CEO Ryan Spong brought his passions for local slow-food, environmental sustainability and collaboration with local partners to to create a catering concierge that curates best-in-class restaurants that share’s values. All their restaurant partners are also committed to local sourcing and compostable packaging. In keeping with its commitment to source locally, the company always looks for a local products and services, so 100% of inventory purchasing and non-inventory sourcing is local.’s collaborative local partnerships include working with SHIFT and using car sharing for food deliveries, promoting Growing City Composting (a local office composting service) and working with restaurant partners to help them become more sustainable. We recently had a chat with Saadia Sayed at to learn more about what inspires Ryan to help other businesses.

Question: What inspired to help other local businesses—both your restaurant partners and your corporate clients—to greening their operations? What specifically do you do to help them?

Answer: Coming from a restaurant perspective; our CEO understands the environmental impact of restaurants and tries to find ways to reduce the impact of waste materials. We ask that our restaurant partners use compostable packaging for deliveries, and we will provide them with compostable packaging if they are not already using it. Some of our restaurant partners have now switched to compostable packaging for all of their take-out meals. We also work with our clients to help them develop greener business practices by composting food waste. We do this by promoting the services of Growing City Composting, a local office composting service.

Question: What are some of the social and economic impacts of’s focus on local sourcing and partnerships with local owned businesses?

Answer: The restaurants we partner with are getting more business, which means they are busier and can employ more local employees. It also means the restaurants are purchasing more food from local growers and suppliers, which in turn means that local farmers and food producers are getting more work. We also partner with other local suppliers and service providers, such as SPUD and SHIFT, so the money we spend is being reinvested into our local community. Promoting the services of Growing City Composting also helps to grow that business while helping our corporate clients reduce their environmental impact.

Question: What inspired to join LOCO BC?

Answer: We’re trying to be an influencer and advocate for using local resources, local sourcing, and helping our partners grow, so joining LOCO BC made sense. LOCO BC is about investing in local communities and businesses and we share that value. Our CEO Ryan is so committed to helping grow other local owned businesses, and the movement to buy local, that he joined the LOCO BC board in 2014.

Question: You’re basically a tech business. How do you support and grow talent in BC?

Answer: We hire the best local employees that match our culture – who appreciate food and have environmental values. We invest in the employees that are helping our company grow – 20% of our ownership is designated towards employees, so it’s more than just a job and a wage to them. They help us grow something of value, and we make sure they benefit from that growth.


Article by: Susan Chambers, author of Small Business, Big Change: A Microentrepreneur’s Guide to Social Responsibility

Lunapads: A Mission-Driven, Local Company that Makes a Difference, Locally and Globally

Launched in 1993 by Madeleine Shaw, Lunapads—known for its eco-friendly, body-positive, reusable menstrual products—is a local, women-owned and operated business with both a local and global impact. Lunapads has been a certified B Corp since 2012, won the Small Business BC Community Impact Award in 2013, and has been a LOCO BC member for two years. Lunapads is driven by a social mission to:

1. Enable women to develop more positive and informed relationships to both their bodies and the Earth;

2. Empower girls and women, both locally and globally; and

3. Create a product that is sustainably responsible and supports girls’ and women’s wellness.

Lunapads makes a difference globally through its One4Her and Pads4Girls programs and as a shareholder in AFRIPads, a Ugandan-based social enterprise. Closer to home, business partners Madeleine and Suzanne provide an empowering work environment for their employees, take steps to partner with as many local suppliers and manufacturers as possible, and fulfill their mission to empower girls and women through their G-Day events (for girls) and by mentoring local women entrepreneurs. We recently chatted with Suzanne to learn more about how Lunapads creates a positive impact for our local economy.

Question: Lunapads is a shareholder in AFRIPads, a Ugandan-based social enterprise that supports locally-based manufacturing and distribution of reusable menstrual pads; a model that reflects Lunapads’ business practices. Could you tell us a little bit about Lunapads’ commitment to local manufacturing, here in Vancouver?

Answer: Ninety-five percent of our proprietary products are manufactured (designing, cutting and sewing the pads) right here in East Vancouver by local garment manufacturers that are family-run businesses. We did have one or two manufacturers outside of BC, but we’ve noticed that the quality is much better when we work with local manufacturers. Overall, 70% of the products available for retail through our website are either local made or sourced from local owned companies.

Question: Tell us a bit about your sustainable materials sourcing.

Answer: Lunapads and Lunapanties are primarily made from sustainable fabrics or natural fabrics like cotton. However, since cotton is not grown here, we cannot source this material locally. But, we do try to buy from local owned businesses that source cotton abroad. 44% of our raw materials are sourced from local owned businesses. All our packaging is made from renewable resources or 100% recycled content and sourced from local owned businesses.

Question: You both volunteer as mentors, providing local business women with leads, contacts, and advice. Can you share how mentoring creates local impact?

Answer: A couple of years ago (2012), Madeleine mentored a physiotherapist (Laura Patrick) who specialized in physiotherapy for kids. At the time, Laura had just one clinic in Vancouver; she’s grown her business to include two additional clinics in Surrey and North Vancouver. Laura won the Small Business BC Community Impact Award in 2012, and was awarded the Best New Business 2014 award by the Surrey Board of Trade Excellence Awards.

Question: What about Lunapads’ business model and philosophy sets it apart from other employers in the city?

Answer: In addition to our pad donation program and being a strongly mission-based company, we offer a flexible work schedule for all of our employees (we let them set their own hours) and we fully support and encourage our employees to show up as their authentic selves and express their personal values. We also provide a health trust fund that employees can draw on for whatever healing modality best suits their needs.


Article by: Susan Chambers, author of Small Business, Big Change: A Microentrepreneur’s Guide to Social Responsibility

#BCbuylocal Week Press Release

For Immediate Release

BC Buy Local Week illustrates value of consumer spending on local owned, local grown & local made to economy and communities

(December 1, 2014 – Vancouver, BC) The third annual Buy Local Week in BC kicked off today, celebrating the big impact buying locally has on the local economy and on communities across BC. Buy Local Week 2014 runs from December 1-7 and has been proclaimed by the Province of BC and many cities around the province, including Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey, Port Moody, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and Whistler.

“We know buying local is an important economic driver in British Columbia,” says Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of State for Tourism and Small Businesses. “Not only does it keep money and jobs in B.C., it also contributes to the character of our neighbourhoods and builds a sense of community. This is not only about buying a sweater at a local craft fair – there are hundreds of thousands of businesses throughout the province to support, from real estate agents to craft brewers to local furniture makers.”

“Local businesses create more than double the economic impact of their chain competitors,” says Amy Robinson, founder and co-executive director of LOCO BC, which coordinates Buy Local Week in the province. “We are encouraging consumers to shift some of their spending to local owned businesses, and to look for local grown and local made products wherever they shop. When you spend your dollars with local businesses, that money recirculates in your community 2.6 times, creating a bigger economic impact for your region.”

Participating businesses will be promoting their local owned businesses, local grown and local made products with bright pink stickers and other materials to highlight their impact. On social media, the campaign is using the hashtag #BCbuylocal to tell stories about the value of buying local throughout BC.

Since “What is Local?” is commonly asked, LOCO BC has been conducting research and working with local businesses to define what is “local.” Based on economic and other local impacts, Local Owned is defined as private companies (single owner or partnership, employee owned, co-operative or social enterprise/non-profit), headquartered in BC where more than half of the owners reside in BC. Local Grown is defined as an agricultural product grown in BC (such as food, plants, fibre, wood), and local made products with more than half ingredients or materials grown in BC. Local Made is defined as a product that is wholly or largely manufactured or processed in BC.

BC Buy Local Week is coordinated by LOCO BC with Vancity as the program’s main partner. Other partners include the Vancouver Economic Commission and Small Business BC.

“As a local credit union, we understand the power of local dollars,” says Linda Morris, a senior vice-president at Vancity. “Our members’ deposits stay right here in our community and we lend those dollars to individuals, businesses and organizations in our backyard. By buying local, we all help create stronger local businesses, communities and economies.”

“Canadian consumers spend about $1,500 on average on food, alcohol, gifts and travel during the holiday season. When people shift just 1% – a $15 dollar purchase – of that spending to local business, it multiplies local wealth and supports more jobs and stronger communities,” adds Robinson. Research by LOCO and Civic Economics last year showed that a one per cent increase in BC consumer spending creates 3,100 jobs and $94 million in annual wages to BC workers.

More information about Buy Local Week and resources to help consumers find local businesses and products is available at



LOCO BC is a non-profit local business alliance in British Columbia working to strengthen communities, grow the local economy, and build strong, sustainable businesses. LOCO BC coordinates Buy Local Week, an annual celebration of local business to promote the contributions that BC businesses make to our economy and our communities. The goal of the BC Buy Local Campaign is to illuminate the local market, making BC-based businesses, products, food and wines more visible to consumers.



Media contact:

Carla Shore

C-Shore Communications Inc.

P: 604-329-0975

Glenburn Soda: Serving B.C.’s Abundance by Sourcing Local

photo: Larry Wright, Burnaby Now

Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionary is a retro-style fountain shop on Hastings Street in Burnaby Heights owned by husband and wife team Ron and Roberta LaQuaglia. The soda fountain brings a taste of a time gone-by to the Heights of Burnaby. It’s a neighbourhood place where friends can meet and where families are welcome. They offer nostalgic treats – ice cream, soda fountain specialties like floats and malts as well as an assortment of vintage candy and bottled pop. 




Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?

Answer: We are committed to purchasing from local owned businesses, and local grown and made products. We get our ice cream from Birchwood Dairy, a local supplier in Abbotsford. We specifically chose them because they weren’t owned bya multinational. Our milk and cream come from Avalon Dairy, and our berries come from local farms – mostly Krause, but also Beckman and Forstbauer Farms. Our berries and fruit for sauces are often organic. The pies we sell are from local owned suppliers, and are local made. We know the baker, and often share sources of local grown berries, so they are often local grown too. We love their pies so much, we’ll pick them up if that can’t deliver that day. A lot of our other purchases, like laundry and banking, are from local businesses. I’d estimate about 75%.

Question: How else do you support your local community?

Answer: We’re passionate about kids, sports and active lifestyles. We hold fundraising days and donate $1 per item sold on those days to local schools. We prioritize active lifestyles, but also help local school PACs to fund technology upgrades for schools.

Question: How do you support the environment?

Answer: Unlike other ice cream shops that use disposable plastic cups and spoons, we encourage our customers to enjoy our products in the store in glass. If they want take-out, we encourage customers to use no packaging (cones!) or we provide compostable and recyclable packaging. We produce very little waste. We work to reduce packaging coming into the shop, and we recommend less packaging to our customers. We give our ice cream buckets away to arts studios and to food scraps collection programs to give away as compost buckets.

Saul Good Gift Co: Generating Local Social Impact through Collaboration

When Saul Brown, a founding member of LOCO BC, started Saul Good Gift Co—a certified B Corp—in 2006, it was with the intention of creating and growing an environmentally sustainable gift basket business. In addition to his commitment to environmentally sustainable business practices, Saul’s business practices are also driven by a commitment to local purchasing (73% of his suppliers are locally owned companies) and developing mutually beneficial relationships with other local businesses and social enterprises—a commitment that has generated a high level of local social and economic impact over the years, particularly for the growing social enterprise sector in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.


Question: What inspired you to start collaborating with social enterprises?

Answer: A series of events and decisions that occurred within the first few years of launching my business got me thinking about the social side of sustainable business. One of my earliest collaborative partnerships with a social enterprise occurred in 2008. It emerged out of a networking event where I met a Rona employee who told me about Tradeworks Custom Products. I started working with the business to locate and procure local, sustainable materials for their products and I helped them grow their business. I also learned a lot about the social side of sustainable businesses through sharing work space—and collaborating—with Toby Barazzuol (Eclipse Awards) on a variety of community initiatives that sought to address both social issues and environmental sustainability concerns through business.

Question: How does collaborating with social enterprises generate local, social impact?

Answer: When we looked at the top 75% of our expenses, we see that 25% of the dollars spent go directly to local social enterprises such as Starworks, Tradeworks Custom Products, and East Van Roasters. However, generating this kind of impact hasn’t happened overnight; it’s been the result of having a clearly defined vision, goals and strategies that have steered decisions at each stage of business growth. It isn’t just about the social impact: these collaborations and partnerships also create value and a competitive advantage for both parties. For example, we have been working with our fulfillment partner, Starworks, to enhance business processes and systems in place that now makes it possible for them to provide “pick and pack”, just-in-time fulfillment requests from clients. ). I collaborate with social enterprise vendors and partners in ways that empower them to access new business opportunities or markets. Saul Good Gift Co also generates social impact through sharing the stories behind the products in the gift baskets. The stories are a “non-preachy” way of raising awareness about social enterprises and social issues.

Question: What advice would you give to other socially responsible business owners who are interested in collaborating with social enterprises?

Answer: First, start with a clear goal and understanding of what the strategy is behind the decision if you want to generate a social impact through cultivating mutually beneficial relationships with social enterprises. Second, you need to be really clear about your company’s culture and values and ask yourself what resonates with employees, customers and other stakeholders. Third, it’s best to start small. Do a little bit, then step and evaluate the process. A key question to ask oneself is, does it create value for both partners?

visit Saul Good Gift Co. at

What’s Local?

At LOCO our work is centred on the economic impact of local. And as an organization that coordinates a Buy Local campaign, ‘What’s local?‘ is often the first question we’re asked.

We know the greatest local economic value is created by businesses who are locally owned and operated. Based on our research study, the Power of Local Purchasing, we know these businesses re-circulate dollars in our local economy 2.6 times more than their non-locally based counterparts. For every $100 dollars spent with a BC-based business, $46 will stay in our economy (vs $18 for non-local counterparts).

At LOCO we’ve been working on creating a definition of local that centres on maximizing the local economic impact consumers and purchasers can generate. These definitions are at the centre of the BC Buy Local campaign.

When asking ‘what’s local’, follow these guidelines.

Local Owned: 

Local owned businesses are:

  • Private companies (ex. single owner or partnership, employee owned, co-operative or social enterprise/non-profit)
  • Headquartered in BC
  • > 50% of owners residing in B.C.

Local Made*

  • A product that is wholly or largely (>50%) manufactured or processed in B.C.

*Can include products produced without local materials or ingredients. Local made products with local ingredients or materials can add “Local Grown” if applicable.

Local Grown

  • An agricultural product grown in BC (ex. food, plants, fibre, wood)
  • A manufactured product with >50% materials grown in B.C.

Local Champion

Anyone who purchases from Local Owned businesses or buys Local Grown and Local Made products can be a Local Champion. Let your customers know you value them as Local Champions.