Retail cooperation and imagination keeps shoppers at home

This past few weeks has seen a banner number of special retail events organized by (or on behalf of) merchants during the important Christmas season.

Several of them have been around for several years; others are new this year.

But they all have this in common: with the promise of at least some good deals and ample promotion, people are more than willing to shop close to home.

The Mindemoya Shopping Spree last Friday was just such an example. Shoppers were all around the business district doing their Christmas shopping in great good humour and were clearly quite pleased with themselves in the process. It was an event and it was close to home.

Little Current’s Ladies’ Night a few weeks ago netted a similar experience for both the shopping public and for the retailers. It was an event and it was close to home. This was the seventh Ladies’ Night in Little Current and merchants say it gets busier every year.

Gore Bay’s annual ladies’ nights (two of them) took place in mid-November with results similar to those of Mindemoya and Little Current.

It’s predictable that this Friday’s Christmas Madness in Manitowaning will be another popular community activity. Once again, it’s an event. And it’s close to home.

What all of these activities have had in common is that the organizers made sure everyone knew about them in their respective communities and beyond.

This newspaper office, by way of example, seemed to be a poster factory for a time where quite different bright and colourful posters were designed for events in each of Little Current, Mindemoya and, coming up, in Manitowaning.

The theme and the art on the posters was the same one used in the colourful ads run for each event so there was this cross-pollination of promotions based on a common theme. A good idea that evidently works.

The most popular ingredients, however, in bringing a mere activity to the status of event is the willingness of merchants in the same community to work together cooperatively towards a common goal and to get together on issues such as hours of opening, date of the event and so on.

All of these taken together give incentive to shoppers to come out and support the event and, in so doing, buy gifts that they were going to purchase in any case, somewhere.

Here is another example: the crowds downtown, and along the parade route of the Santa Claus Parade last Saturday in Little Current were enormous.

Predictably, this Saturday evening’s Santa Claus Parade in Gore Bay will similarly draw huge crowds (anonymous judges will be judging best decorated homes and businesses at the same time).

Once again, and of course of necessity, parades are cooperative activities and so we have another example of cooperation producing a critical mass that in its own turn creates crowd appeal.

It’s quite simple, really, but it’s clearly been working and will continue to work.

To bring the argument back to plain and simple shopping, people do like something a little different from time to time and sometimes that’s as simple as some brightly coloured ads, a proliferation of posters and the offer of free draws and snacks together with discounts.

Prosper together. Shop Manitoulin.