The best presents . . .

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

I’m happy to report that this Christmas I was able to do almost all of my gift shopping here in the Pontiac. The gifts were well-received and I actually saved money by shopping here, once I’d added the cost of my driving time, gasoline, parking, lunch, stress with rush hour and crowds of shoppers, etc.  

Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

I’m happy to report that this Christmas I was able to do almost all of my gift shopping here in the Pontiac. The gifts were well-received and I actually saved money by shopping here, once I’d added the cost of my driving time, gasoline, parking, lunch, stress with rush hour and crowds of shoppers, etc.  
No one believes this, right?
It is true, although I admit to fudging a little, since several of my gifts were gift certificates (as requested), and at least one was from an Ottawa specialty store, Mountain Equipment Co-op. 
I took my family’s wish lists and spent almost an hour dividing it up to see how many of the items are available here, and where. That was a key thing to do. I used the Journal’s gift section for this and it was easy! Turns out most of the gift requests were available here, except for the ski equipment at MEC and some clothing requests. That hour of planning saved me at least two hours of driving and fighting traffic.
Yes, some prices here were slightly more than I expected. I’ve given up on Walmart, paying cheap prices for poorly-made stuff, but even the ten bucks extra it cost for kids’ snowshoes at Murray Sports was   actually a savings.  Gas, parking and driving time all cost money, too. And if my grand-daughters have a problem with their snowshoes, Murray’s will take care of the problem much quicker than going through one of the branch stores of a multi-national corporation in a giant Ottawa mall. Several freshly-roasted coffee gifts from Art Brulant made for plenty of ohs and ahs! 
Much of the money I spent in the Pontiac stays in the Pontiac. All of the money I would have spent in Ottawa or Renfrew would have stayed there, not here. And money spent here goes to our taxes, our arenas, our hockey teams and figure skaters, local choirs, parks, ski trails, and other things which make local life more pleasant. If we ship all our money away, why would we expect the Pontiac should provide us with arenas or even a municipal pool? Ottawa will get the pool; Renfrew will get the arena repairs. We will get nothing because we have done nothing for         ourselves.
Shopping at home is not merely a nice thought. It has clear benefits to our local economy and our way of life. If I can spend at the Giant Tiger, GT will have even more selection to offer next year. 
The Pontiac Chamber of Commerce has       promoted this message and has made it as      convenient as possible to shop locally, but so many people look merely at today’s price tag and not at the effects of supporting our own  communities. Put yourself in the shoes of our local businesspeople – from the farmers’ market suppliers to adventure rafting, restaurant meals to Canadian Tire, local artists to Stedmans’ toys, an overnight at Spruceholme Inn or a massage.
In a way, taking our shopping outside (when we could find what we want here) is a lot like adult vandalism. We are harming our neighbours, our local businesspeople and their families, and we are doing it deliberately. That’s a definition of vandalism. We don’t practice vandalism     otherwise. Why in our own community and why at Christmas?
Every one of us can do something toward Pontiac’s economic growth; we can shop at home as much as         possible.