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'$20 can truly make a difference': Edmonton woman supporting other local businesses after closing her own store

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A local business owner who closed her store recently due to an economic downturn is now trying to drum up support for other small businesses.

Julie Morrison owned the gift and local goods shop Majesty and Friends for 20 years.

She started her business at local markets before opening a physical location in the Highlands neighbourhood.

The shop later moved to Manchester Square and won an award for "Canada's Best Restroom" in 2022 for its ice cream-themed bathroom.

"It was really, really great to be here, I got to have my dream store, and we got to put rainbows all over the place and make it a very inclusive space for everybody," Morrison told CTV News Edmonton on Thursday.

"I loved being here every single day."

But Morrison says the economy and rising costs forced her to close the shop.

"We've had a big decline over the last year, the last three months has been completely devastating for us. All of my savings were gone. We had nothing left," she said.

"Food has gone up, bills have gone up, interest rates have gone up and I'm a non-essential service. We don't expect people to spend their money when they don't have it. But there's a consequence to the economy being like this."

Now Morrison is trying to make sure no other local businesses suffer the same fate as Majesty and Friends.

"We're started a cash mob initiative," Morrison said.

"We are going to pick a place, we're going to pick a location, and everyone is going to meet there and spend at least $20 with a local business."

The first cash mob is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Oliver Exchange Building.

"A lot of the businesses at Oliver Exchange had talked to me about the situation and told me how much they were struggling as well. And so everybody is included for all of Oliver Exchange. Everybody. Plum Home and Design, Brio Bakery, Culina, everybody."

Morrison says it's not about getting people to boycott big businesses like Amazon or big box stores.

"This is about how $20 can truly make a difference for a small business here."

Jenna Pryor co-owns Plum Home and Design with her mother.

She says she was devastated to hear Morrison had closed her store.

"I reached out to her the day I saw the post. And I said to her, 'I felt sick when I saw it, it just hit so close to home.' And she immediately came back with positivity. And with 'How do I make sure this doesn't happen for you and other businesses?'"

Jenna Pryor at her shop Plum Home and Design in Edmonton. (Darcy Seaton/CTV News Edmonton)

Pryor says she's felt the pinch in her own business in recent months.

"What's hard for us as retailers is we often buy over a year out, so we've already made those commitments to our suppliers when the economy started to shift. And so now we're trying to figure out 'What do we do?'"

Pryor says despite her commitments, she's been able to bring in some lower price items.

"Every week, every month, every day, we're really watching those numbers. We've made adjustments over the last 12 months. That doesn't mean we're safe. That doesn't mean it's a guarantee."

She says she's excited about Morrison's cash mob effort.

"I thought, 'OK, we can do this, we can all pull together. And not only will it help my business, but I'll help all the businesses in our building.'"

"It's not a big purchase, it's just still coming to your local businesses and saying, 'We're here for you, we want you to make it, we want you to be here next year or the year after.'"

With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk 

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