West Coast merchants are filling their stores with holiday cheer and preparing to offer sweet holiday deals as Ucluelet and Tofino’s holiday shopping extravaganzas get started on Friday.
Tofino’s Jingle into Christmas event and Ucluelet’s Midnight Madness will both be held on Nov. 30. The events see local shops keep their doors open late while offering large discounts and holiday merriment to shoppers.
“It brings people together. You’re giving the gift of giving,” said Karly Schlenz of Tofino’s Storm Light Outfitters. “It’s like drinking hot chocolate; it makes you feel warm.”
“It brings everybody together and gives people the chance to get their gifts locally, which is great because that’s what makes the town tick,” said Monte Clarke of Tofino’s Storm Surf Shop.
Jen Dart of the Tofino Chamber of Commerce said enticing locals to spend their holiday budgets in town provides a valuable boost to Tofino’s economy.
“It’s a great community event, really geared towards locals,” she said. “We certainly have lots of local business people that are very unique and we have a lot of really innovative retailers.”
Liz Mcinnes of Tofino’s Epic Pharmacy said Jingle into Christmas draws residents out of their winter hibernation.
“It’s good for shopping, obviously, because of all of the discounts, deals and refreshments. But, it’s also really great for a social event to get out in the winter and see all your friends,” she said. “This is a great way to get outside and be part of the community for the night.”
Tofino mayor Josie Osborne said the event gives locals a chance to check out shops they might not otherwise go into.
“Jingle into Christmas is when we get to take some time out from our busy lives and visit all of the great stores in Tofino,” she said. “Tofino has the kind of business community that comes together and makes this a really celebratory time as well as participates. Everybody opens their doors, entices people inside and makes a really fun night out of it.”
Osborne added that it was disappointing to see both Tofino and Ucluelet schedule their shopping events on the same night and said she hopes the towns’ chambers of commerce can get together and avoid double-booking in the future.
Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce Office Manager Lara Kemps said she plans to host a meeting with local businesses in the near-future to discuss the Midnight Madness date.
Craig Heber of Tofino’s Tree House Gift Company said scheduling both events on the same day was “poor planning,” and said better communication is needed to prevent it from happening again.
“For us to go on the same day, people are forced to decide this year whether they’re going to be in Ucluelet or Tofino,” he said. It’s bad for all the businesses and it’s just poor planning. I don’t get to go to Midnight Madness because I have to work Jingle. So, I won’t be spending any money in Ukee.”
He added though that he’s excited to participate in the Jingle Into Christmas festivities.
“It brings the community out. People mingle and start getting together and it brings the community together,” he said. “We’re so tourism driven that we kind of forget that we’re a town of 1,800 people and new people get to meet the older people and support their businesses.”
Ucluelet resident Allison Tremain said she enjoys shopping at both Midnight Madness and Jingle Into Christmas and hopes participating stores extend their celebration throughout the weekend to allow shoppers to support both sides of the peninsula.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to visit both towns and shop on one weekend,” she said adding families have out-of-town events that make it difficult to be on the West Coast for two weekends rather than just one. “I think it is a benefit.”
Susan Lee of Ucluelet’s Blackberry Cove Marketplace said she enjoys seeing the community come together to celebrate Midnight Madness and added it’s an important opportunity for locals to support their local entrepreneurs.
“We get people into our stores that might not have normally come in and might not really know what we have,” she said. “Our locally owned independent businesses rely on our local townspeople supporting us. We get lots of help in the summer, but through the winter lean months, we really need our folks in our community to shop and support us. That’s what keeps us going year-round.”
She added that she hopes to see the communities coordinate in future years to hold their events on different days.
“It’s kind of a grey thing, because each town needs to have the right to pick the date that works best for the town’s schedule and calendar. But, I know that there are lots of people that would like to go to both,” she said.
Hjalmer Wenstob is in his first year of owning Ucluelet’s Cedar House Gallery and is excitedly decking his gallery’s halls with merriment for its first Midnight Madness event.
“It’s a time that we can all come together and, I think, we need more of those,” he said. “Of course, from a business standpoint, you can say it’s a shame we’re on the same day [as Jingle into Christmas]. But, at the same time, maybe it’s a time where we’ll all just trying to celebrate on that last day of November and bring that light and warmth into it; bring the lights up and celebrate. So, I think I’ll take it as a good thing and say we’re all just celebrating together at the same time.”