As we do twice a year — after the construction holiday and after Christmas — this week’s Suburban is a theme issue. We’ve covered many topics in these issues. Some more serious and some light hearted. We’ve focused on the plight of poor seniors, local heroes within our communities, summer fun in the city and the importance of charity just to name a few. This week we’re encouraging shopping local. And here’s why.

We are a newspaper committed to strengthening the communities we serve. That takes many forms. Covering hyper-local stories important to all of you — your names, your achievements, your children’s accomplishment, your schools, your local councils — and supporting local initiatives from food drives, to championing the integrity of affordable neighbourhood housing in the West End, helping cultural communitiest, and partnering with outstanding service organizations like West Island Citizens Advocay. They are all the lifeblood of maintaining strong communities into the future.

But as much as all these worthy efforts are — the altruistic goals and the committed volunteers — there is a parallel lifeline network that strengthens our communities just as much and is essential to,our daily lives. That lifeline is commerce. Without our local independent retailers, restaurants, service businesses, we would have have quite a hard time enjoying our lives.

To use the line from the comedy series “Cheers,” these are the places where everybody knows your name, and if I may add, also know your tastes, needs and moods. Local enterprises also have a very unique character. They are committed two things that are quickly disappearing. A commitment to their craft and a sincere caring for their clients. As such they are the mortar holding the building blocks of our communities together.

Small and medium independent sized businesses face many challenges today. From high taxes, government regulation and competition from digital giants like Amazon. But their owners and employees are also our neighbours and friends and deserving of our support. They are personally involved in our communities in social endeavours. They have unique offerings catered to our tastes and understand that their success is based on personal attention and service to us.

Government statistics demonstrate that in the next ten years some 40 percent of local businesses will be seeking to sell or close as the baby boomers and even Gen-Xers who started them retire and many have no one to pass the businesses on to as so many of our young people have either left the province or gone into other endeavours. It will be the biggest transfer of business assets in our history. We want these enterprises to continue their personal service to us. For them to continue, willing buyers have to found. And for that to happen, their sales figures have to remain healthy.

My colleagues have written much in this issue on some of the most interesting local shopping experiences in the city, West Island and Laval. You’ll also see a personal snapshot from my neck of the woods. It is certainly not exhaustive but meant to give you a taste of the joys of shopping local. Do it for yourselves, do it for the joy and do it for our communities.

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