Editorial: First days of winter

Trent Ernst, Editor


I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again (because I am, after all, a one-note writer), but the first snowfall or two of winter are some of my favourite times of the year.

Last week, when our first real snowfall of the season began, my wife offered to lend me the vehicle so I could drive home. I refused. There are few things more lovely than walking home with the snow gently falling around you.

Of course, there are few things worse than walking home at -30, getting blown backward by the wind, unable to find a purchase on the sheer ice. But each season has its glories and its horrors, its wonders and its not-so-muches.

Remembrance Day, which has come and gone, is always a bit of a shock, as you look up and realize that there are only five more issues of the Tumbler Ridge News before Christmas.

That means there are only five more weekends to get into Dawson or Grande Prairie or Edmonton or Prince George or really, anywhere but here to do your Christmas shopping.

We talk about shopping locally, but there’s not a lot of places to do so. Looking for something sexy to stick under the tree for her? Or him? Doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, you won’t find it here. Did she ask for parts for the Kitchenaid? Tough luck on that one.

Yes, there are a handful of places to go shopping in Tumbler Ridge, and yes, if you’re not particular, you could probably get all your shopping done in town. As long as it didn’t involve clothing. Or electronics. Or any of a thousand other things you won’t find here.

The thing is, these are usually the big ticket items. The must get. The have-to-haves. Which means you have to go out of town to get them anyway.

And, since you’re out of town, might as well pick up everything. Sure, you can get work boots in Tumbler Ridge, but if you’re already in Grande Prairie, might as well pick them up there. Or groceries. Or stop by the GP Dollar Store.

And so the local businesses lose out, not because they don’t have what you want, but because, well, you were already in Grande Prairie, so it was easy enough to pick it up there.

We’re going to be doing a feature on the future of retail here in Tumbler Ridge (the punchline: it’s bleak) sometime in the next few weeks, but with Christmas season upon us, I wanted to take a moment and encourage people to take a look at their lists and see what they can accomplish without going out of town.

For instance, picking up one of those fancy new iPad Minis with retina displays? No, there’s no stores in Tumbler Ridge where you’d find one, but there’s a good chance you won’t find one in Dawson or even Grande Prairie. But you can get one on-line. And then you can stay in town to pick up your Christmas candy and stocking stuffers. Save on gas, save wear and tear on the vehicles, and help support the local businesses.

It is possible. Back when Tumbler Ridge was younger, more innocent, people used to shop locally all the time. At the most recent Council meeting, Councillor Mackay reminisced about the Midnight Madness days downtown.

Of course, there were also more stores, but you have to start somewhere. I know. It’s easy to start to go stir crazy in Tumbler Ridge, especially in winter, but the more we shop locally, the more local shopping there will be.

At least, potentially. There are many, many other factors in the story, which we will address in the future.

But for now, take a look at your shopping list, and see what is available here in town.

You might be pleasantly surprised.