Many retailers have been chomping at the bit for the start of another holiday season and the unwritten rule for many businesses in this part of the country has been that you don’t start pulling out the decorations until after Remembrance Day, out of respect for our veterans.
As has been the case though. in recent years, many of the national chains got the jump on the holiday season much earlier with television commercials, decorations, Christmas displays and holiday background music.
In the case of the town of Amherst, the holiday season officially arrives this weekend with this evening’s downtown light-up and Saturday evening’s Santa Claus parade.
We certainly can’t ignore the economic impact of this time of year on our small businesses and the importance of supporting these people who are also our friends and neighbors.
My comments are not meant to make those who are preparing for the annual shopping pilgrimage to Bangor or Portland Maine feel any sense of guilt.
As well there are many of us who will make the occasional run to Moncton or Halifax during this time of year simply for the change of scenery or for those items we don’t feel are available locally.
However, there are so many reasons why it makes sense to spend our dollars here at home. These are particularly difficult times for the small shop owner and many are fighting for their financial lives to keep their doors open amidst the presence of the big box stores and the growing number of people who have taken to online shopping for many of their purchases.
Why not think outside the box this year with your gift giving, by purchasing goods and/or services that are locally produced? It could be anything from crafts to baked goods, massages to car detailing, fitness memberships to restaurant gift certificates.
You could plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. How about going out to see a play or concert staged by one of our churches, schools or theatre groups?
Despite what the skeptics might say, this community offers a wide variety of products and services and a unique shopping experience that even draws shoppers from some of the larger markets like Moncton or Halifax.
Similarly, across the border in Sackville, merchants have participated in a highly successful Midnight Madness promotion in an effort to stem the flow of area shoppers to Moncton.
This Christmas season, why not show we care about the sustainability of our rural communities by encouraging and supporting our small businesses.
The benefits will come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine. Consider, for example, the reciprocal impact of supporting the local retailer who in turn gives back to the community by sponsoring minor hockey teams or supporting our health care facilities.
I oftentimes like to refer to a slogan I believe aptly applies in this situation: “This is the new, ‘Canadian Christmas tradition’ Buy local this Christmas - The job you save might be your own.”
Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.