Many benefits to shopping in our home community

No matter how many local fundraising events I go to, I never see items donated by businesses in Lynden, Bellingham, Mount Vernon or Seattle.

I have enjoyed attending or participating in a few non-profit fundraisers recently and it’s always a great opportunity to catch up with people I haven’t seen for a while, meet some new folks and of course raise some funds for the organization hosting the event.

There is usually more than one opportunity to spend some cash, maybe a raffle, 50/50 draw or a silent auction or live auction. I am always appreciative of the individuals or businesses that donate to these worthwhile causes.

Having been the owner of a tire business in another life, I know how often someone comes through the door of a business asking them to donate a prize or a gift certificate to their charity. Sometimes, the business owner just has to say “no,” because you can only give so much. Some businesses will choose a different charity to support each year, while others will give something to everyone.

We have so many great community partners in our Langley business community. In some cases, the donation is considered as part of their marketing or promotion scheme and they anticipate they will get some return business.

That’s what I do. Whenever I’m at one of those events, I take note in the program or on the auction info, who has donated and if I need an item that they sell, I will go there.

No matter how many local fundraising events I go to, I never see items donated by businesses in Lynden, Bellingham, Mount Vernon or Seattle, and yet so many local people choose to go there to shop. They say they are saving money, but in fact they are draining the economy of their home town.

I have never seen the attraction of sitting in a two-hour lineup waiting to cross the border. I have never seen the value of driving 100 miles to save $10, then sit in another lineup to get home.

I shake my head at people who grocery shop in the U.S., leave their money there and complain about the price of things up here at home. But are they getting the same product? Products in the U.S. may look the same as in Canada, but often the ingredients are different. They often have the same product name but have different labeling, and it’s worth it to read labels a little more carefully, especially if you are trying to avoid specific additives.

Here’s my choice. I can get up very early, sit in a lineup for two hours, travel long distances, eat in restaurants once maybe twice, head back and sit in a lineup again, spar with border guards and come home late in the day.

Or I can sleep in, have a quiet breakfast at home, go to a local market for my vegetables, buy some eggs from a local farmer, spend some money  at some community- minded businesses while chatting with friends and neighbours, come home for lunch and spend the rest of the day doing something with family. The bonus is we are all still talking to each other, instead of being trapped in the car most of the day.

I miss the Friday night shopping in downtown Langley. It was not only a family night, it was the equivalent of Facebook — a time to catch up with our friends. Spend your hard earned money with your neighbours. At least that’s what McGregor says.