This region has a reputation as a shining star during the summer months. A destination. A place people seek for the quality of life for whatever time they can afford to be here.
But the events underway this weekend and those planned for the next few weeks make this area just as attractive.
It’s Small Business Saturday today and we are fortunate to have vibrant, creative small businesses from Charlestown to Mystic — with Westerly as the core — to peruse for our holiday shopping and to help lift us into the spirit if need be. This concept, shared nationally, began in 2010 to help small businesses struggling to recover from the great recession, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. The mission was to show support for local shops on the Saturday after Thanksgiving while all the focus, up to that point, had been on “Black Friday” and all the deals at malls and online.
So we encourage you to take time this weekend and in the weeks ahead to take part in the events planned around the holidays and to support the merchants who help add to the characer of this region. And there are plenty of events.
Today’s Christmas tree lighting at the library and park add to the downtown shopping experience, as did last night’s edition of Santa’s annual arrival in downtown Westerly. These and similar events reinforce the already rich experience of sampling the offerings from our independently owned shops. The annual Holiday Stroll and Luminaria scheduled for Dec. 6 and sponsored by the Downtown Business Association and Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce — a tradition entering its 21st year — is another bit of character that adds to the downtown experience.
In Mystic, Santa arrives by tugboat this afternoon and later this evening those hardy boaters still in the water will provide a lighted boat parade on the Mystic River — not your average holiday events.
Stonington Borough will host a holiday stroll Dec. 1 and Hopkinton’s is set for Dec. 9
We sometimes take these events for granted, but consider how visitors from cities and large metropolitan areas view these events and our quaint villages and shopping areas. Where we see crowds and traffic, they see charm and warmth — and they probably feel a sense of relief and even safety. Their support of our downtown shops, just like their support of our beach and tourism businesses in the summer, help strengthen the local economy. And we should join those visitors who seek out the charm we get to experience every day.
When you shop local — as in locally owned, not local big-box — you keep your money in your area. You support local jobs and you support merchants who live and shop here too. It makes too much sense to ignore.