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Supporting local businesses

Elmira Independent editorial

There is something unsettling about the annual phenomenon known as Black Friday.

That’s when hordes of shoppers descend on stores, fighting each other for the chance to find the best bargains. In the process, someone usually gets hurt.

The shopping frenzy occurs just after the Americans celebrate their Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful for all the blessings they have. Then they go out to consume even more, in an ironic twist that few seem to notice.

What’s truly disheartening is the number of Canadian shoppers who follow along, going across the border in search of amazing bargains.

In one sense, it’s hard to blame them. After all, these are tough times. Who doesn’t want to save some money, and get an across-the-border excursion at the same time?

In another sense, however, it points to several things that are truly wrong about our society.

We are so enamoured of saving a few bucks that we will travel countless miles, wait for hours at a border crossing, line up before dawn, just to lug everything back, to fill our homes with more stuff we don’t truly need.

It’s hard to justify the time, energy and gas consumption that goes into this one day of madness, when there are so many other good things that could consume our time.

And, when we go shopping across the border for Black Friday — or any other time — we also ignore our local retailers, something we do to our detriment.

That’s because the local retailers are the ones that support our local communities. They are the ones who hire our sons and daughters for part-time work after school, and sponsor local sports teams. They make generous donations to a number of causes throughout the year.

In Elmira, those causes include the Elmira Quilt Auction, the Christmas Goodwill Program, and food drives. If you look through this paper carefully on any given week, it is likely you will see a donation from one business towards a local cause, and business owners getting involved in the community.

It will become even more noticeable in the coming weeks, when Elmira residents will enjoy such festivities as Moonlight Madness and the Elmira Santa Claus Parade.

The downtown core will be festively decorated, ushering in one of the most special times of the year.

But when we take all of our shopping out of town, and out of the country, we are not supporting these businesses, which means we are not supporting these worthy causes — at least, not as much as we should.

In the coming weeks, when shopping for gifts is on the top of everyone’s list, we would encourage you to look a little closer to home.

It will be a gift that will continue to give, long after you purchase it.

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