Text by Sue Burns | Photo by Forrest Cavale

’Tis the season to shop ’til we drop! From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and right on through the holidays, we’re making our lists and checking them twice as we get online and click on everything we need. True, online shopping is quiet and convenient, but something is definitely missing from the online shopping experience … music, merriment, the fun of being out and about in gaily decorated shops and streets — in short, everything that makes the holidays hectic and fun.

One of the best things about the holidays is bundling up and sharing the experience of shopping at local stores with the rest of our community.

At the holidays and all year, shopping local goes beyond fun. On its website, AMIBA (the American Independent Business Alliance) outlines reasons for local shopping. Building and shaping a community’s character, strengthening the local economy — local sales taxes generate critical revenue for the maintenance of streets, schools, parks and public services, and consumer satis-faction — top the list. Shopping local is even better for the environment as independent community stores use less land, carry more local products and offer closer access to residents, resulting in less traffic and air pollution.

It’s well-known that Visalians and residents of nearby cities take pride in community spirit and generous support to local shops and agencies. This is amplified in December as holiday shopping events keep the economy healthy and spirits bright. Crowds gathered to shop, eat, skate and share the season create warmth unmatched by any winter coat.

Visalia

Downtown Visalia’s Holiday Open House evenings will take place Dec. 12 and 19 from 5-8 p.m. Plan on shopping at the fine stores along Main Street, and enjoy carriage and train rides and photos with Santa. You’ll work up an appetite, so plan on dinner out while you’re shopping, too. During the evening, Downtown Visalians will collect teddy bears to be donated to the Fire Department and children’s services. As a thank you, donors will receive four free skate-night tickets. Find out more by calling (559) 732-7737.

Exeter

Exeter’s 28th annual Christmas Open House will also take place on Dec. 12 and 19 from 5–9 p.m. Cheerful downtown shop owners are looking forward to welcoming shoppers to their stores with holiday refreshments and special offers. Carolers will fill the streets with song as shoppers peruse unique boutiques where one-of-a-kind gifts and treasures await. Free horse-drawn carriage and old-fashioned firetruck rides will add to the merriment, and Santa will be waiting with everyone as well. For more information, contact the Exeter Chamber of Commerce at (559) 592-2919, email chamber@exeterchamber.com or visit ExeterChamber.com.

Tulare

In Tulare, there are no set holiday events, however, residents have begun spending more time in the newly updated 100 block of South K Street. John Hartman, director of the Tulare Downtown Association and Foundation, and the Tower Square Property Owners Association said that “we’ve seen a resurgence in our own downtown as residents have started ‘bringing it home.’ The 100 block of South K Street is a prime example of what happens when people start shopping locally. We have three or four boutiques, a specialty gym and escape rooms that have opened all in the last 18 months. We have a restaurant under construction, a couple of long-vacant buildings being reactivated and, in general, a positive attitude that our local economy is improving. A portion of this is due to people realizing the power of their dollar in their own community.” For information on upcoming events, visit tularedowntown.com.

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