Downtown Friday nights

It’s an effort to attract shoppers to Summerland. Stores will stay open late on the Fridays through Dec. 23.

The annual Festival of Lights reminds us every year how much fun we can have in downtown Summerland on a Friday night. Now, thanks to our merchants, downtown will be open Friday evenings until Christmas and perhaps beyond.

It’s an effort to attract shoppers to Summerland, spearheaded by the Summerland Merchant’s Committee. Stores will stay open late on the Fridays through Dec. 23.

The initiative is a departure from earlier campaigns and promotions urging customers to shop locally.

While this message is important, it is equally important for merchants to be available when customers have the time to shop. The longer hours on Friday nights make it easier and more convenient for Summerlanders to patronize local businesses.

For small businesses, the extra hours come at a cost, mostly in additional employee wages, but the potential benefits in terms of increased business should more than compensate.

Summerland’s retail businesses are uniquely suited to gift shopping during December and any season.

One-of-a-kind items, handmade merchandise, crafts and artwork are Summerland’s stock in trade.

These are just the kind of things a shopper likes to find during an evening of shopping that may also include drinks and dinner.

The new shopping hours represent an opportunity to show the rest of the Okanagan our unique retail outlets.

Organizers of the extended hours initiative hope Summerland will be the destination of choice on Friday evenings, with people from other Okanagan communities as well as tourists enjoying a lively market atmosphere.

It was like that a couple of Fridays ago during the 24th annual Festival of Lights.

Maybe some of that fun can happen on Friday nights year round.