As you stroll in downtown at your own comfortable pace, take a break from your window-shopping, take a moment and look up and let your eyes explore the old façade of the buildings down here. The detailed architecture is a reminder of the history that these buildings hold. Every downtown core housed a Woolworths Five and Dime, a Kresge’s Department store or an S&R, and if you look close enough, you will be able to make out the buildings they once occupied. Downtown shopping is more than just getting the things you need, it is really a chance to slow things down, an adventure into the past, to a time when you knew everyone who you were buying from.
Recently on a sunny afternoon, I made my way into one of my favourite antique shops to browse for a gift. “Hello Marina,” I said to the owner. She returns my hello with a big welcoming smile and asks, “How are all your girls?” She knows I am heading for the hats. I love the comfort of knowing the owner by name, the familiar feel to this shop and her personalized service. There is pride in ownership and quality here. I leave with a hat, the gift wrapped, and a smile.
This could be any specialty shop in one of the many local downtown shopping areas. We are seeing a resurgence in downtown commerce as the lure of shopping in the big box stores wanes. The trends are seeing the shoppers moving from these large shopping centres downtown to the smaller urban communities. We, the shoppers, are looking for that quality and unique something that can only be found in the charming shops that line Main Street. As we become more dependent on our modern conveniences, we are finding ourselves more and more disconnected from the world around us. Our downtowns give us the sense of belonging again.
Local downtown shop owners have been coming together in response to the need for downtown revitalization. The passion of the store owners gives way to countless volunteer hours and this response has resulted in community action and improving that connection to your neighbourhood shopping. Our downtowns have the added advantage of the waterfront which further enhances the downtown experience. What makes it work? Downtowns have to have it all. From the hardware store to the specialty clothing boutique, from the homemade ice cream to the fantastic original artwork, from the live theatre to the local café, you will find shopping in your local downtown a personal experience.
Granted, the busiest months for the downtown core occur during the summer, those involved in downtown planning have events running all year round, and the list of events is extensive. From winter celebrations to art walks and parades, to book readings and side walk sales, there is always something tempting you back into your community.