The Stuart Nechako is in the “Heart of BC.” It is the central supply and distribution centre for agriculture, forestry and tourism and services. Vanderhoof is the main supply centre for the Stuart Nechako with the predominance of professional, commercial, administrative, educational facilities. Fort St James and Fraser Lake have a wide range of retail, professional and commercial services as well. Other centres vary in their scope and scale of services. It is estimated that the 2003 regional market was more than 100,000.
The Stuart Nechako Region is considered one market area. The region covers more than 35,000 square kilometers in north-central British Columbia, from Clucluz Lake west to Endako and from Tweedsmuir Provincial Park north to Germansen Landing.
The region includes the municipalities of Fraser Lake, Fort St. James and Vanderhoof, the Rural Electoral Areas C, D and F, as well as the First Nation communities of Saik’uz, Stellat’en, Nak’azdli, Nad’leh Whuten, Takla Lake, Tl’azt’en and Yekooche.
The 19,000 residents of this trading area do some or all of their day-to-day shopping in their own communities.
The residents of the secondary trading area utilize Vanderhoof for larger purchases (appliances, automobiles, farming supplies and equipment, and recreational sports equipment) as well as specialized goods and services. They customarily shop or do business on a weekly or monthly basis and are prepared to drive up to 1.5 hours into Vanderhoof. The draw is primarily from the rural residents between Burns Lake to the west and Prince George to the east for agricultural supplies.
The third level of market extends beyond the Regional District and captures a larger market that has a seasonal flow to it. Based upon the population and service level of the District competes with the much larger community of Prince George. There are instances where comparison shopping will be made from a customer base of the total Northern BC region.