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Street Talk

Open House Promises Friendly Fun

By Mickey Howley

Just when you thought we’d all be cutting grass until December, a snappy two-night freeze comes along and reminds us it’s the middle of autumn. The rainwater puddle that hangs out in my GMC’s bed was solid ice. The heat is over and Halloween is done. Though I’d bet more than a few of you are still getting that spooky sugar high out of your kid’s plastic pumpkin stash. Thanksgiving is soon—three weeks until you have to be nice to those relatives you don’t especially like. And them to you.  And Hey Now!….. The Christmas holidays are in sight. That means shopping and gifts and stores and again those dear relatives.
The last 50 years the “Christmas Season” has expanded—meaning the shopping focus and time has increased—from the time when it started just past Thanksgiving to the current immediately post Halloween start. This holiday season expansion has been driven by large retailer mission creep. They’re in the business of selling and the holiday season has the most sales. So if you expand the season, maybe you expand the sales. It really does not matter if it is Wal-Mart with Black Friday hourly deals or Sears with the Christmas Wish Book or even Neiman Marcus Fantasy Christmas gifts— by the way I’d sure like their special Maserati this year—big retailers push this season early and hard.
The big retailer long-term push is to get folks to shop longer and spend more. They do that for their benefit, but there are other effects.  One of the side effects is it has killed many Main Street merchants who also depend mightily on holiday shopping. It is a make-it-or-break-it season for them as well. This Main Street has made a solid return back in retail…and granted it is not the same retail mix it was 50 years ago. But shopping the Valley first is critical. For the ones already here staying strong and expanding and new businesses looking to come in. That local economy strength really shows up at this busy time of year.
This Saturday November 8th your Main Street merchants are having their seasonal Open House. The Chamber and WV Main Street are putting up a grand prize and all stores will have  shopper prizes and specials – plus nice cookies and drinks. It won’t be the pre-dawn pathos-shivering crush, ultimate loss-leader trick of Black Friday. No, it’ll be nice and friendly and you’ll enjoy it. Fun not frantic. Right here in your very walkable downtown. See the ad in this paper for details. Remember that buying local does so much more than putting a gift under the tree.

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