There is something very special about the stores, shops and boutiques around the 4th, 5th and 6th Street of downtown Courtenay, as well as the ones on and around the main streets of Comox and Cumberland. Now is the season when we must all make our last-minute shopping choices. For many, the budgets may be a deciding factor. This year, I would like you to revisit this mindset and open your wallet and your heart to the unique qualities of the local shop owners and their staff.
 
I completely understand the attraction of the “lead items” in the big box store advertising flyers since, as a marketing consultant by trade, I have worked with the psychology of bringing the consumer to my client’s door step. There is a place for everything, including competitive pricing from offshore imports, when you purchase your weekly items throughout most of the year. In the last 6 to 8 weeks of 2018, many local retail businesses will be looking to do more than fifty per cent of their yearly business in that short time period. 
 
This is when your dollars make a huge difference to the Comox Valley small business sector. Over the last five months, I have personally visited many of these boutiques and enjoyed many heart-warming and inspiring personal stories about the journey these individual entrepreneurs made before they hung their sign outside their store location. In the coming months, I hope to share some of these within the articles and columns posted here, on Tide Change. Until then, I would like you to think outside of the box. Outside of the large box store chains, that is.
 
Take the time to walk around and visit your local shops. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the original and unique selections you will find for every budget. Even items for stocking stuffers can be discovered behind the gorgeously decorated store fronts, created by local artists, crafts people and sub-contractors, who have inspired a most welcoming shopping experience. For example, I recently mailed a wonderful container of local cooking salt with the “Crow” as its logo. My friend Joni, in Eastern Ontario, loved the fact that it highlighted both her love of these birds and the name of her website as a Reiki practitioner. All of this for under $10 and the cost of shipping was more expensive than the actual gift. You see my point, though. 
 
The purpose of a gift is to express our gratitude for the people who share and witness our life journey. There is no better way to do so than by consulting with a welcoming local shop owner, who can recommend a personalized gift. You will not only be gifting the person on your list, but also the entrepreneurial heart of this community, the local small business owners.
 
Catherine Hedrich

Editor-in-Chief, Tidechange.ca