Shopping season?


As we head into the year’s busiest shopping season, our gift lists and bank accounts ready … let’s push pause, just put aside our gift lists for a moment. This includes, of course, turning off of the screens.

The idea is turn off (or pause) all our accounts for any sort of mail-order shopping and consider this: by us spending our incomes in businesses in other regions (digitally or by
driving there), that by doing our shopping in this way we are actually helping to starve our own neighbourhoods and towns.

By ordering all sorts of goods from outside, compared to walking down Main Street and going in the shops, we are voluntarily part of an unconscious decision to use our own incomes and savings to help improve other towns and other regions.

That sound about right?

No? … it doesn’t sound right? But how else to explain today’s surprising absence of vitality in the hearts of Campbell’s Bay, Quyon, Fort Coulonge, Chapeau — all flourishing towns in our own times. Today their main streets are largely empty shops and offices, closed doors, unpainted signs. Yet this is where a community’s heart-beat begins — its jobs, its social life, its community entertainment, sports, etc. How did Quyon come to lose its two banks? Coulonge? Even “the business centre of the Pontiac”, Shawville, has empty buildings once supporting showrooms for furniture and appliances, business supplies, men’s clothing, even groceries, cars and trucks. Too little business. Too many people were buying what they needed in other places. This suffocating economic dust-storm at least benefitted the gas stations — for a while.

Government services stayed, even expanded. There are people living here! But it was us, the neighbourhood, that didn’t show up.

We think of personal convenience, saving time, finding longer or more specific selections — all good things — but we find them only on-line. We’re in a rush. Yet the question remains, aren’t we ignoring other long-lasting effects of taking our incomes and spending them elsewhere, and that these can be, literally, life and death decisions? Life and death of our communities, life and death of services available in Pontiac’s towns and villages.

There are alternatives — fewer, smaller, or group gifts, more greetings and visits than more “stuff”. There are plenty of alternatives; suggestions are everywhere.

We can complain to our politicians that “the government” should provide more to us, but if we ourselves engage in actions that hinder that very thing we’re demanding — who’s going
to seriously listen to our complaints? We have to help ourselves — “walk the walk” — and this topic of our seasonal shopping is at one of the most basic levels of helping ourselves. First rule, we ourselves, our actions, have to strengthen our communities and our towns’ economic hearts. Right?