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

LaLas_drive

LaLa’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.

LaLas_ByTheNumbersGraphicFileQuestion: 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 I 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.