Friday, November 23, 2012 is Black Friday. It’s a name that came about, because our neighbours in the USA traditionally start their Christmas shopping the day after their Thanksgiving. Stores have stepped up with mega-sales to attract as big a share of the seasonal budget as possible. The competition is huge.

With American TV stations touting their wares, Canadians are driving across the border to rake in the savings. Some drive for hours, then stand in huge lines for even more time, just to save a bit of money. How much are they saving?

Many of the morning radio and television programs interviewed Canadians who headed south for some Black Friday shopping. These people had very long drives, then shopped all night. They were standing in line, waiting to pay for what sounded like some extra special deals. They had been up for so long that they had to get a hotel room to get a good rest before heading back to Canada.

What happens to all of the goodies in their vehicle while they sleep? Do they lug it all into the hotel room to keep it safe, or does someone have to sleep in the van to thwart would-be thieves? Buying all of this stuff also means stopping at the border for customs inspection. How much does that cost, if you are buying items worth hundreds of dollars? The duty-free dollar limit is reached very quickly for those who have been on a major shopping spree. Finally, what happens when shoppers get home with everything? It would all have to be wrapped and stashed to keep it from prying eyes. After the whirlwind shopping tour, the weekend would be over and it would be time to go back to work. No rest for the weary shopper.

Is it really worth it?

It all depends on what you want. Experts have studied the prices available on Black Friday and have noticed that the same, or lower, prices are available at other times of the year. One has to ask if those prices are available all at once, though.

Black Friday shopping isn’t for everyone. It is really a special form of entertainment for those who love to shop and who enjoy the hunt for a bargain.

Take heart, if shopping makes you cringe. We have wonderful stores in Elora for people who don’t enjoy crowded stores or stressful lines. Our business owners take care of us. They’re always shopping the world on our behalf, ordering special items, and stocking treasures, ready for purchase any time of the year. Our artists never stop. Their creativity is readily available in hundreds of unique items.

Historic Mill St. is loaded with specialty shops that handle everything from culinary gifts to clothing to the absolutely decadent. Casual browsing is encouraged, and shop-keepers love to help the customer to find the perfect gift.

Don’t just stay on Mill St. in Elora. There are plenty of stores up Metcalfe and Geddes Streets, plus on many of the side streets, and all around town. There are two different stores in Elora that cater to pets, and anything that they need. We have two hardware stores. Both carry the expected, but also many extras that make perfect gifts. Go for a walk and see what you can find.

Give yourself a break, too. You can shop for a while, then stop for a coffee at one of the fabulous restaurants and cafes. Can you get better pastry outside of Elora?

Decorating? Fresh flowers and greenery for your home are waiting for you at the local flower shops. The staff will be happy to give you tips for arrangements that will suit your taste. It all comes from shopping in Elora. Challenge yourself to shop Elora first.

There will always be those who absolutely love the bargains and excitement that Black Friday offers. The day and the specials are just for them. I hope they had plenty of fun this year, and found the perfect gifts.

For everyone else, avoid the hustle and bustle of distance shopping. Stay home. Shop in Elora for Christmas. The gifts are here.