A Christmas Challenge - The Orca
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A Christmas Challenge

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Jody Vance invites you to join her this holiday season in shopping local. No online, no massive megastores, but small, independent mom-and-pop shops. You’ll give better gifts, and feel better doing it.

Have you been slightly complacent in a slow walk precariously close to the point of no retail return? I know I have. It’s time to change.

It’s time to address our coupon code consumerism (coupled with insane property tax practices I’ve written about here) that’s killing local business communities.

Family owned and operated brick-and-mortar is getting more expensive by the hour, falling victim to a “click to shop” society.

Yes, many are counting proverbial pennies to make ends meet. But many others can afford to spare some pennies, and let go of our Amazon Prime savings in the name of our neighbourhoods and small business owners. If we don’t correct our addiction to online consumerism, I believe we will live to regret it.

There was a time when I felt quite cagey about plugging my credit card number into a website. I was late to the party, but I’ve certainly made up for lost time. Shamefully.

It really hit home when I bought a birthday gift for a family member via an Instagram ad. Enough!

Reading about restaurants, shops and galleries shuttering for good has me feeling remorseful.

Yes, it’s early, but hear my pledge to resist the urge to click my way through Christmas.

The horror of needing to get dressed and – gasp – leave my living room. I shudder to think…then realize that I love my local shops enough to actually purchase presents from them, even if the prices might be a bit higher than online.

Again, I realize it’s early to talk about such things…for most people. But I confess to being one of those crazy people who perennially have all Christmas/Hanukkah gift shopping done no later than November 15th.

So. This weekend it all begins. I’m wondering if you might join me in this challenge from The Middle: try to only shop local for your gift giving in 2019.

Waiting for government action to save small businesses from being taxed to death isn’t working. And in the meantime, the slow walk through hollowed out neighbourhood shops is quite glaring.

Look up from your phone on your next stroll down the street. I guarantee you will notice “closed” and “for lease” signs peppered between banks, dollar stores, drugstores, and chain restaurants.

It feels like a crisis for the “little guy”, the mom and pop shop, the artisan. We need to do better by them.

I realize I’m coming from a place of newfound awareness, and probably sound like a zealous dieter or ex-smoker. And, yes. I Costco. I Walmart. I Joe Fresh. Today I make a promise that this holiday shopping season, I won’t.

My goal is to find funky, cool, creative gifts that support small local businesses.

I get it: you want to save a buck and find that deal. But is that worth saying goodbye to the shopkeeper you’ve seen at the end of your street for decades?

If we want to preserve the community vibe of our neighbourhood stores, it’s on us to actually shop there, and yes, possibly pay a little more.

Let’s take a pass on the big box stores, restaurants and such, this holiday season and give the real gift of Christmas to the locals.

Think about having the company party somewhere with only one location. For that friend who “has everything,” think about purchasing services — a hand car wash, a pedicure, a cooking class.

Think of the things that will feed the coffers of those working the slimmest of margins.

This is a call to help stave the slide down a very slippery slope — one present purchase at a time.

Now that’s a holiday I can get behind.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

SWIM ON:

SWIM ON