Perhaps it’s due to the sinking loonie or simply because online shopping is easier, but it was refreshing to see an overwhelming response to the Trail Times recent poll on cross-border shopping.
Eighty per cent of respondents said they wouldn’t be heading south of the border for their Christmas shopping. Granted this is far from a scientific poll and the number of voters isn’t revealed. But the simple fact that people are eschewing the traditional trip to Spokane for bargains is promising.
Which brings me to this weekend’s community celebrations.
Bells will be ringing in Rossland, Fruitvale and Trail as they host their respective Christmas celebrations.
The celebrations are first and foremost an opportunity citizens to gather together and wish each other season’s greetings in a fun and festive atmosphere.
The season is about the joy on children’s faces and nothing does that better than seeing Santa out in full force.
From a parent’s point of view, it’s those moments that make the entire holiday hoopla worthwhile.
A warm fire, hot chocolate, music and Santa all add up to a perfect starting point into the festive season.
Of course another goal of the celebration is simply to get the public out and about and see what each community has to offer.
As much as we hate to admit it, Christmas commercialism is a fact of life. Trying to stop it would yield as much success as trying to hold back the Columbia River with your foot.
For local stores it’s often a make-or-break time of year. It’s no secret why they call it Black Friday in the U.S. and sadly in other parts of the world too. It’s the best time to get your store in the black on the balance sheet.
And while consumers are bombarded with advertising all the “must haves” for under the tree from the major retailers, it’s community events like this weekend that provide an opportunity and an excuse for shoppers to visit their local shops, markets and stores.
You may not feel the need to buy anything but simply walking through a store supports the idea behind these events.
The goal is to get people into their respective downtowns for a community celebration. It’s an opportunity for citizens to peruse what is available in their own backyard.
And the benefits are numerous.
Getting out to jingle, rekindle or parade instills a sense of community back into everyone involved.
Getting out to visit local shops and stores supports those same businesses and justifies the effort each town makes in putting on these events.
I don’t expect to get all my Christmas shopping done this weekend or even in downtown Trail. But by going out for a hot chocolate, listening to some carols and walking through a couple of stores I might find a couple of items to knock off my Christmas list.
I’ll see familiar faces, smile at excited kids crowding around Santa and just enjoy the fact that it’s all happening in my community.
My $20 purchasing power isn’t going to but some store in the black for 2014 but it goes a long way in supporting the entire notion of spending local.
And local spending means local jobs, local business and local success.
It’s not a cure all for what ails some downtown districts but it’s a start.
And if you can add a little Christmas joy to the entire day then it’s an outing well worth taking.
You might even find yourself humming a Christmas tune or two on the way home.
Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times