It has been 3.5 years since I moved to Armenia and those who know me are perfectly clear on how I feel: it has been the best 3.5 years of my life. Now, as I sit here and contemplate my daughter’s future, waiting to welcome her to this world, I cannot help but think about the future of the country as well. Back in Canada, there was a time where people were trying to push the locally made or at least locally branded products your way; I did not truly understand it, though obviously it logically made sense. Buying local means supporting local, means increasing local revenues and contributing to the local economy in a very positive manner. It means more jobs for the likes of you and me. It means more new businesses and more investment into SMEs around town. But while logic made sense, the emotional value was not there for me. Not at that point. Today, in Armenia, that value is felt to my core and I would not buy non-Armenian is I knew that the local version existed. I rarely buy internationally branded shoes and would not touch a Made in Turkey for the life of me, mostly out of principle. Yet I have a closet full of Made in Armenia shoes, cloths and everything in between. I might pay a little more, but I don’t mind so long as I know it helps keep a new business on its feet. Creams and shampoos I only buy local, while food is always preferred to be home-grown…. unless it’s blueberries. I don’t think we get them locally, do we?
In any case, it is the fact that there seems to be a heightened preference for “Made in Armenia” production these days that has me intrigued. Many stores are popping up and putting up signs about their locally made products, with multiple naming their shops “Made in Armenia” as well. While socks, underwear, and baby clothes are the most commonly presented pieces, there are groups popping up on Facebook that encourage buying local, presenting all types of SMEs, while malls are also making it a point to include as much Made in Armenia as possible. Tashir Mall’s fourth floor opening was a huge step forward in that, while Tashir Street on Northern Avenue has more local production stores than foreign already. Toy stores like Mankan are growing rather large, and while they carry imports as well, it is amazing that we can find so many options there. Supermarkets are also placing the focus on local products, with Yerevan City seeming to be the most in tune with the trend, carrying everything from locally made stationary to it’s own haberdashery and even Vernissage style gifts that one can buy on his/her way. It is a great time to get into the “Made in Armenia” business at the moment, especially if you look at the DFA’s work concerning putting together the annual expo, since we seem to really be seeing a boom in local production support and an increase in quality due to a good amount of healthy competition. Of course, this has been my passion since I got here myself, with Facebook lists coming in very handy, such as this one I keep adding to!
Note: One of my favourite enterprises producing local is Homeland Development Initiative Foundation, employing women around the country to create handmade pieces that can be sold/exported with ease. This includes everything from handmade dolls and bears to baby rattles and tape measures, to Christmas ornaments that range from trchnakir letters to your traditional crochet symbolism in angels, trees and snowmen.