Christmas is less than a month away. Some of us have done the majority of our Christmas shopping, some of us have done a portion of it and many of us are still thinking about it.
On Manitoulin Island, just as in larger centres and big cities, most retailers rely on the Christmas season for an identifiable portion of their annual sales. In fact, in many cases sales from the four to six weeks prior to Christmas represent whatever profit margin particular stores may realize on their entire year’s sales.
Having a healthy retail sector in our small Manitoulin towns is a convenience for Manitoulin people.
The fact that one can shop in downtown Little Current for fashion items in several stores that cover the needs of women, men and children over a wide age range is a major convenience for Manitoulin people, all year ‘round.
The fact that one can visit a particular store in Mindemoya where most Island outdoor sports needs can be satisfied, all year ‘round, is a major convenience.
The fact that locally-designed and manufactured clothing is available factory-outlet-style in Gore Bay is a major convenience, all year ‘round, as is the jewellery store in Gore Bay where brides and grooms can both choose engagement and wedding rings and set up a bridal registry.
They can register for useful gifts in Little Current and Mindemoya as well, a major convenience for their friends and relatives who want to be assured that their gifts are going to help set up a new family’s home. That’s another convenience, once again all year ‘round.
The list can be much longer but that shouldn’t be necessary to make the point that Manitoulin retailers in all of our communities are on hand, open for business in a way that is convenient to most of us day after day, week after week, month after month, season after season.
They also employ people we know.
When we set aside the myriad of mail order catalogues that appear in many of our mailboxes this time of the year, set aside shopping expeditions to larger centres this time of the year and make an honest effort to do as much of our Christmas shopping on Manitoulin as possible, we are in no small measure ensuring that these same stores will remain viable, financially secure and conveniently available to serve us year after year.
When we make the choice to shop locally, in reality we’re both investing in our own communities and ensuring the future convenience for ourselves that comes with being able to count on nearby stores that will continue to have the products we need every day.