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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Here's a challenge: SHOP LOCAL

With less than a month to go until Christmas, it’s time to think about shopping for gifts, if you haven’t done that already. Maybe you’ve had your list checked off and gifts wrapped in storage for weeks already. But if you still have gift-purchasing to do, I would like to issue a challenge to you: shop local.
Kemptville and area has more than enough of everything to provide significant and meaningful gifts for everyone on your list. Of course, if you have small children you may be slightly more challenged in checking off every item on the wish list as our supply of toys is limited to places like Walmart and Giant Tiger, but do give them a try – you never know what you will find. And by shopping local, you will be saving gas money, not to mention parking frustration.
Don’t even get me started on shopping in the States. I realize some of you live close enough to the border to see the lower prices beckoning you from across the waters but the truth is, if we continue to spend our money in the U.S. our shops - and communities - along the river will not thrive. I know someone who boarded a bus to shop in the States on Black Friday last year. She devoted a day to shopping, went without adequate sleep, battled lineups and crowd stress and when she returned to Canada she realized the luggage she had purchased could be found for less in Ottawa.
Most of our local retailers are offering significant savings this time of year. Have you taken the time to look? You might be surprised to discover you can buy local, hand-crafted leather goods, jewellery and even furniture for the same price you would pay in Ottawa or the States. Yes, the big chain stores are blasting their advertising at us from every direction. You turn on the TV or radio, log onto the Internet and blam! You know what’s on sale this week in Best Buy, Toys R Us, and more. But if you take those prices with you to a local store and compare, you might be surprised. In some cases our local retailers might be willing to match the flyer price of a bigger dealer. More likely, their price is a bit higher because they don’t purchase the same quantities as the bigger stores. But if you can buy the same camera in Kemptville for $20 more than one in Ottawa, give yourself a pat on the back. You saved yourself that $20 in gas, plus the frustration of negotiating traffic, searching for parking and dealing with crowds. And that, my friend, is priceless.
We are all about keeping it local these days. Why stop at Christmas? Start at one end of town and work your way down. Fill the stockings, stuff the gift bags and spend the money you would have spent commuting for shopping trips in town, taking yourself out to dinner at one of our fabulous local restaurants.
Find that great Christmas or New Year’s Eve party dress at one of our Old Town Kemptville consignment shops, or have a local designer whip one up for you (better get your order in now though; time’s a wastin’!). Get your hair and nails done locally and don’t forget the jewellery. Want to feel even better about your Christmas spending this year? Buy recycled furniture at one of our local auction houses for a truly unique and special gift.
Dreading the thought of driving through a blizzard to a party in Ottawa? Where you either have to go without festive cocktails because you have an hour drive home, or shell out a couple hundred dollars for a hotel room? If you still want to celebrate big without the drive, hire a local event planner and caterer to help you host a party to remember at your house. And if you’re on a budget, host a cozy potluck and invite friends to stay over. That’s what we are doing for New Year’s this year. I’ll send out the invitations as soon as I’m finished my Christmas shopping, in Kemptville.
Within our borders you can find exquisite handmade items, unique imported goods and more. This Saturday, November 30th is the perfect time to head to downtown Kemptville for Old Town Christmas. Get your shopping “passport” stamped at designated stores and you might win a diamond ring! And while you’re there, come join me at Rotary Park in front of the massive Christmas tree for a carol sing-a-long.

If more of us make the effort to shop local at Christmas and year-round, we will see less empty storefronts and more thriving businesses in our booming little town. Happy Shopping, everyone! 

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