EDITORIAL: This holiday season, think local for shopping, gift-giving

The last week of deer season, bone-chilling winds and now the approach of Thanksgiving are three sure reminders that winter is nearly here.
Those also remind us that Christmas is on the way and it’s time to compile our lists and make a few wishes of our own when it comes to holiday gifts.
As we ponder what to get for our kids or our spouse, parents, nephews and nieces and whomever else on our respective “nice” lists, let’s be sure to also consider who might also need our support this season - our local business community.
Let’s face it - many haven’t had an easy couple of years.
The world changed in March, 2020, and in many ways it has not yet returned to what it was before Covid-19 reared its ugly head.
Nearly all of our businesses faced shutdowns and restrictions early in the pandemic, and while many have reaped the benefits of a pair of busy summers in Ely, many have also dealt with cancelled events and other obstacles along the way.
The holiday season can and does serve as a shot in the arm for more than a few merchants looking to hold on through another winter, while they wait for the busy summer season to arrive.
Every dollar spent locally helps, and the benefits of shopping in town are many.
If one sits down and thinks about it, there are countless gift options right here in Ely - for all ages.
There are toys for toddlers to teens and no shortage of clothing, whether one is buying a special piece of handcrafted winter gear or staples such as boots, shoes, sweaters or jeans.
Looking to buy for that relative from outside of Ely? Why not an Ely experience such as a dog sled trip, pontoon boat ride, or tickets to one of our attractions?
And whether that special someone lives away from the area or right in town, a gift card to one of our restaurants is a stocking stuffer anyone can enjoy.
Practical gifts work great as well. That hard-to-buy-for-uncle would certainly appreciate a certificate for gas, groceries or even his favorite case of beer.
Those and many other items can all be purchased in Ely, from businesses who serve our community year round, who pay taxes that help pay for our streets and schools, and who give so often of themselves to support local youth groups, sports teams and causes and fundraisers.
The Ely Chamber of Commerce recognizes the impact of local businesses and is kicking off the season with a ‘Shop Local” promotion over Thanksgiving weekend.
Yet Thanksgiving isn’t what it once was in Ely, when Thursday night meant the town came alive with residents, former residents home for the holiday and even visitors from out of town.
In its heyday during the 1990s and early-2000s, many Ely businesses had their busiest night of the year as the holiday shopping season started here with a flourish.
It will be markedly different this year, with only one business slated to be open on Thanksgiving night.
The fading of one of Ely’s great traditions can’t even be blamed on the pa2ndemic, as even in recent years, fewer and fewer businesses opened their doors on Thanksgiving night and crowds downtown paled in comparison to a decade or more ago.
A change in some shopping habits and a desire by many employers to give their workers a holiday night off took some of the luster away.
But while those businesses will be dark on Thursday night, many will open Friday and be ready for shoppers, both from Ely and beyond, for the remainder of the holiday season.
Let’s be mindful of our neighbors, those who own and operate our local businesses, and consider putting down our mouse pads and setting aside internet shopping for some or all of our gifts this year.
Ely, indeed, is open for business this Christmas season.