I don’t think I was expecting a Hallmark moment but I think I expected some signs of life.
On Sunday I ended the day a bit early, cleaned myself up, put on pants and decided to go on a Christmas shopping sojourn to the downtown area. Outside of my hobbies of running, food and coffee, I do little in the way of window shopping, so Christmas has traditionally been the time I look through the stores in search of interesting things to buy for the kids. In years past I would spend hours looking through Eslite bookstore and the multitude of other small design/craft related shops that inhabited the central district of our old residence, going elbow to elbow with the throngs of people doing the same. This effort would often necessitate rest breaks in a café or 3.
That’s life in a big urban centre and I would like to say pre-pandemic, but they got that under control from the onset, so it only applies to our experience here.
The downtown on Sunday was like a scene from the Walking Dead with streets devoid of people and no traffic whatsoever. You could say that the new restrictions are having an unhealthy effect on business, but I’ve heard that these restrictions haven’t stopped families from shopping en masse at those big box stores that keep moving farther and farther from the town.
I’ll admit that I have a bias. I hate the experience of shopping in Walmart, Canadian Tire and the like. With an experience largely devoid of warmth, personality and efficiency, I would rather shop online where the prices are much better and the selection far more vast.
I do enjoy the downtown and would love to be able to do all our activities there, groceries included. I’d also prefer to buy local, but how many fancy soaps, coffee cups and fine mittens and hats can one buy? Luckily, my kids love books, and we have a trio of bookstores, of which the previously read stores provide a great selection. It’s a shame that downtown Charlottetown can’t thrive without tourists and expand it’s retail options beyond what appeals to the cruise ships.