Downtown Christmas shopping returns to Strathmore

·3 min read

Christmas is coming early to Strathmore’s downtown core, and many businesses are gearing up to participate in the holiday spirit.

On Nov. 19 and 20, residents are encouraged to head downtown to check out unique offers at participating local businesses.

Chair of the Strathmore Wheatland Chamber of Commerce, Hayley Poirier, said there are roughly 25 participating locations in the event, each with their own unique offers and in-store incentives to draw people downtown for the weekend.

“When you go and experience it, you’ll have something different when you go to Strathmore Florist, and then when you wander over to Saffron Bistro. Everybody’s got something going on,” she said.

The early Christmas downtown has become a staple that occurs every year in town, which becomes an opportunity for many to get some of their Christmas shopping done early while boosting the local economy, instead of going elsewhere.

“You’ve got customers who look forward to it every year and go in to have a cup of hot chocolate in one store, and then wander over to another store and have a cookie,” said Poirier

“And then of course, there’s all of the sales that are going on, it’s a good shot in the arm of business for the downtown community, and it’s just a reason to get out.”

Poirier added the event is organized mainly by Marlene Rison, owner of The Rack on Third, who, before doing it herself put it together alongside the former owner of Strathmore Florist.

Risdon explained the event has grown in popularity over its operating years as people have discovered what it is exactly, and the extra traffic can be quite significant.

“People just know about it now, which, the first year people didn’t really know what it was. And now, the businesses know what’s coming up and the residents do too, and they all understand what’s going on,” she said.

“I give out 200 grab bags that weekend... If I can give (them all) out, that’s a lot of customers coming in my store, and I’d say probably 30 per cent of them didn’t even know I existed. Brian did a count and he used to get 300-something a day, I think... I’ll probably have 250 people in here over the two days, which is really big for me.”

She joked that the weather is a persistent challenge which will contribute to how many people decide to come out and walk around downtown during the weekend.

Similarly, last year, foot traffic was down significantly during the Downtown Christmas due to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Risdon hopes the weather will hold out just long enough for the event, and now that more people are vaccinated, there will be less hesitance to be out and about.

“A lot of people are getting out shopping and stuff now, they’re getting around and there’s other events happening, so I think it’ll be back to regular again as long as the weather’s nice.”

2021 Downtown Christmas will be taking place Nov. 19 and 20, with businesses operating with their regular hours.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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