Saturday, July 11, 2020

A very brief yet necessary message

My apologies for not writing in this space over the last week but life has taken a sudden turn for your humble scribe.

I won't go into the details at the present time but I just wanted to post briefly here that due to a sudden illness in the family I am stepping away from my writing duties here at least for the month of July in order to deal with life.

I am fine physically although emotionally not so much.  But please respect our privacy at this time and understand when I have the heart to continue I will do so in this space.

For now, thanks for your support and I will be in touch again later this summer, hopefully.

Mike.

July 11th, 2020.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Some uplifting news for the week

It's nice to report some uplifting news in this space this weekend, rather than all the closures and such as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.  Oh things are still far from normal to be sure, but at least we can report on some more hopeful signs this weekend and that is nice to see.  So let's get right to it.

If you are downtown this weekend you'll notice a couple of changes.  First, the always-popular St. Catharines Farmers Market is still underway with restrictions of course, but now the time has been extended on Saturday mornings through to 1 pm, and more vendors have been added to the mix.  For the first time since before the lockdown prepared food vendors will be allowed to join the market mix, and that will be nice to see.  So if you have not already done so, why not plan to make a visit to our wonderful farmers market this morning?

Downtown streets will be an issue this weekend and many summer weekends going forward, however.  Beginning yesterday afternoon and through much of the weekend St. Paul Street between William and Carlisle will be closed to vehicular traffic, in order to accommodate restaurant patios to open on the sidewalks and for the street itself to become a pedestrian walkway.

With restaurants only able to serve on patios for the time being during Stage 2 of the reopening plan from the provincial government, this really is the only fair and viable option to help our struggling restaurant scene downtown try to regain some of their lost business during the lockdown.

Even if you choose to just pick up take out it would be encouraged to help patronize our downtown eateries.  To help in this regard,  there are Curbside Pick Up zones on Queen Street and James Street near St. Paul.  There will also be designated parking spots in the parking lot at 135 St. Paul Street, accessible via Summer Street off James.  These spaces are reserved for free short-term 15-minute parking.

The two downtown parking garages will also offer free parking this weekend.

Downtown retailers are also being encouraged to set up outdoor displays for open-air shopping through the weekend, which is also a wise move as clearly the more time we remain outside during this recovery period the better.  Physical distancing should be observed at all times, of course, and wear a face mask if required to do so by the business you are visiting.

The hours for the street closures this weekend are today through to 11 pm and tomorrow from 10 am to 9 pm.  Assuming this continues through the summer months the street closures will also be in effect on Fridays from 3 to 11 pm.

I received an email update from the Cheng2 Duo this week, and they have three events coming up in the near future that will be of interest to classical music fans.  The duo, Sylvie and Bryan, charmed local audiences at the spring recital with Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts last April (2019) in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Their spirited playing and engaging personalities were hard to resist.

Recently they have been holding livestream concerts from their New York City living room, and the latest livestream will be today.  But this one will be from their home base in Canada, as this week they just played in the semi-final round of the inaugural Bader & Overton Canadian Cello Competition, live-streamed from Ottawa.

Bryan has been selected as one of the finalists now, and the virtual final round will be this afternoon with the livestream happening at 2:15 ET.  You can find out how to register to view through their website at www.cheng2duo.com and catch their performances via their YouTube and Facebook channels.

Meantime the Ottawa Chamber Music Society has been offering Chamber Chats during the lockdown, hosted by Canadian broadcaster & writer Eric Friesen.  In April I caught a wonderful Chamber Chat with Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt in fact.

This Thursday, July 2nd at 2 pm ET you can catch the latest episode on ZOOM as Eric talks with both members of the Cheng2 Duo.

The third event is currently available online through to July 2nd, and it is from the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM).  The orchestra has chosen Bryan's debut concert with the orchestra in a live performance just prior to the lockdown to be rebroadcast online.  Bryan, the Grand Prize winner of the 2019 OSM competition, is performing the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the OSM with Matthias Pintscher conducting.

You can check it out via the OSM's You Tube channel and it will be available to the public through to July 2nd.

Finally, this is Pride weekend but of course everything is online this year to the pandemic, and in honour of Pride month the Brock University Human Rights & Equity Department along with various community partners will be hosting a Digital Black and Indigenous Pride Concert & Fundraising event this evening from 7 to 9:30 pm.

The aim of the concert is to celebrate Pride with Brock students and other St. Catharines community members, all the while honouring the importance of anti-racism work in the 2SLGBTQ+ movement.

Featuring a varied array of Black and Indigenous musicians, poets and artists from the local community and throughout the province, the concert hopes to put a spotlight on Black and Indigenous performers while also raising funds for various social organizations and anti-racism causes through raffle ticket sales.

You can find it online by going to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre You Tube channel.

That's it for this week.  Stay safe, wash your hands and support our local businesses now and in the future!

June 27th, 2020.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The latest updates from the local arts scene for this week

A few notes crossed my desk this week via email I'll pass along this weekend, all regarding the local arts scene...

From the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in downtown St. Catharines, it was announced this week due to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Celebration of Nations Indigenous Arts Gathering will be moved online this year.

The gathering, set for the weekend of September 11th to the 13th, has as its theme this year Mighty Niagara and the Great Lakes Watershed.  This stems from the abundance of water in Niagara and the obvious need to practice responsible stewardship of the region's environment.

The news release, quoting Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett, states "attendees can still expect the same high-quality diverse programming that distinguishes Celebration of Nations as a premier Indigenous performing, visual and intellectual arts event."

The event will launch on Friday September 11th with the Celebration of Nations Outstanding Achievement Awards and many of this years' programmes will focus on this particular theme through the online platform.

New this year will be the Indigenous Niagara Living Museum Tour, a virtual tour that will guide visitors to several significant cultural and historical Indigenous locations throughout the region.

You'll be able to learn more about the annual gathering this Sunday at 4 pm for the latest episode of #NiagaraPerforms, featuring a conversation with Artistic Director Burnett, Artistic Producer Tim Johnson and a special guest performance by Canadian Mohawk Two Spirit singer/songwriter Shawnee.

You can access the #NiagaraPerforms online performances via the FirstOntario PAC Facebook and Youtube platforms.

The FirstOntario PAC also announced this week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will not proceed with a traditional 2020-2021 HOT TICKET Season or Film House programming.  That is a tremendous loss to the community at large but given the current climate it is perhaps the wisest decision.

However, management is currently working to find alternative ways to engage with artists, audiences and the community via the digital landscape for the time being, and then introduce in-venue programming when it is finally safe to do so.

FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Executive Director Colleen Smith also asked if any of their existing or community clients and partners still want to explore possibilities in or around the downtown facility, they are encouraged to reach out to the PAC team in order to find ways of bringing your recording, event or performance to life in a virtual way.  She says "We are ready and waiting.  We are still open for opportunity."

Last week I included in this space a couple of updates on two downtown arts organizations working hard to provide alternative ways to entertain and engage audiences during the summer months while the pandemic puts a stop to regular programming, and both have short updates to mention again this week.

The Foster Festival has extended the deadline for submissions for the first of three Normflix online sessions featuring Canadian playwright Norm Foster.  Originally set to expire yesterday, the submission deadline for part one, Ask a Legend, has now been extended to tomorrow, Sunday June 21st.

You can send in your questions for Norm on video keeping one of the three themes in mind:  The Early Years, Storytelling and Order out of Chaos (How COVID has changed our world).

You can send your video submission link via Google Drive, Dropbox or WeTransfer, and email them to info@fosterfestival.com.

Finally, Suitcase in Point Theatre announced this week applications for The Nest Residency are now open.  This initiative, launched in 2019, offers a new generation of theatre artists in the Niagara Region a creative home for 12 months to gain exposure, training and hands-on experience.

Through the programme artists are mentored and supported to build and develop new work, as well as learn how to hone their creative and collaborative skills.

The release this week states that while individuals are welcome to apply, "we encourage collectives, companies and collaborators to apply as a group."  Residency in The Nest includes the opportunity to showcase work developed as part of the annual In The Soil Festival.

Of course, the current pandemic means access to studio, office space and public gatherings are curtailed pending restrictions resulting from COVID-19.

You can go to the Suitcase in Point website to learn more and view application details.

That's it for this week.  As Niagara enters Stage 2 of reopening the economy we are taking small steps to regain a semblance of normalcy in our everyday lives.  We are still a long way off to be sure, but baby steps are better than nothing at the moment, so let's stay vigilant and make the recovery stick so we can get back to normal sooner rather than later.

Have a great and safe week!

June 20th, 2020.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

June Updates on the local arts scene

Just a couple of updates crossed my desk by way of my inbox this week, so we'll get to those today and some other thoughts on the current state of things regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week we wrote about updates including the online edition of the In The Soil Festival and a new appointment of an old friend at The Foster Festival.  Both have brief updates to offer this week as well, so let's start there.

ITS Online, or the reimagined Mult (p)Arts festival that replaced the traditional In The Soil Arts Festival for this year, is still suspended as of this writing but hopefully will be resumed at some point in the near future.  The announcement from June 3rd to postpone the majority of the remaining programming came in response to the racial unrest felt not only in America but also here in Canada and elsewhere in the world.

The show of respect and support for their community of artists, audiences, colleagues and others at this difficult time is also being backed up by a pledge to offer 50% of all donations made to In the Soil to the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association (NRARA) through to June 15th.  So there are still a couple of days left to donate and have half the money go to NRARA.

This is an important decision on the part of organizers of In The Soil and their parent organization Suitcase in Point Theatre.  At a time when arts organizations everywhere are feeling the pinch from suspended performances and no audiences they are doing their part to help others in a meaningful way.

One interesting byproduct of the online version of In The Soil is the fact people not only across Ontario but across Canada and beyond can view the work of the artists involved, rather than just those who traditionally would flood into the downtown core of St. Catharines for the on-the-street version of the Festival.  The increased exposure can only help these artists at a time they need all the help they can get.

You can view all of the performances during ITS Online for free by visiting In The Soil's Youtube and Facebook channels.

Over at The Foster Festival, which of course cancelled their entire summer season at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in downtown St. Catharines earlier this spring, they announced this week their new Normflix series.  This is a three-part online series that will continue to deliver the humour with heart both playwright Norm Foster and The Foster Festival have, well, fostered over the past few years.

The first instalment of Normflix invites viewers and fans to ask Norm Foster a question about his writing process, his early career or even something as off the wall as what his favourite food is.  Looking at Norm Foster both the playwright and the person, you're being invited to send in your questions for Norm via video submission via Google Drive, Dropbox or WeTransfer.

The Festival asks you to keep one of these three themes in mind:  The Early Years, Storytelling, and Order out of Chaos (How COVID has changed our world).  With each episode of Normflix you'll be invited to watch Norm listen to your questions for the first time and answer on the spot and in the moment.

I'm not sure if Norm will be briefed on some of the questions beforehand or not, but either way knowing his comedic mind it should be a fun experience.  Hopefully Norm will be comfortable being in the video hot seat during these sessions as well!

You can email your video submissions for Ask a Legend to the Festival directly at info@fosterfestival.com.  The deadline for submissions is this Friday, June 19th.

These are a couple of great examples of the local arts community being incredibly resourceful in finding ways to reach out to their patrons in order to keep them engaged and in touch during a time of  great upheaval in the community.  There are others of course, but these two are certainly worthy of note this weekend.

In general, although things are not opening as quickly as some would like here in Niagara and the rest of the GTA, I am willing to wait it out and be ready when these areas graduate to Stage Two of the reopening process.  Yes it is difficult and a hardship for many in the area, especially small business owners and especially those in the food service industry, but hopefully the second stage will begin for us sooner rather than later.

I personally will be keeping my distance as I have been all through this pandemic and only shopping when I have to, and of course patronizing our local restaurants for take out on a weekly basis as we have done from the beginning.  I encourage everyone to do the same and slowly allow the recovery to take its course.

Have a great weekend and stay safe.  Better days are ahead!

June 13th, 2020.


Saturday, June 6, 2020

News and notes to start the month of June

The month of June is not even a week old and I already have several arts-related items that have crossed my desk to share with you today.  Like last week there is a mix of good and bad news, so again like last week lets go from the bad news to the good news...

The worst news of the week and for many in a very long time came earlier in the week with the news Oh Canada Eh! dinner theatre in Niagara Falls was closing for good.  The dinner theatre founded by local travel agent Ross Robinson and local theatre performer Jim Cooper had been operating in the Falls since 1994, so the upcoming season would have been their 27th.

The reason for the closure?  COVID-19 of course.  Oh Canada Eh! thrived on the tourist trade along with a loyal local base, but with both of those drying up in March due to the pandemic it was perhaps inevitable the theatre company would have a tough go of it going forward.

With much of the tourist traffic coming during the summer months and no idea when that will return, plus the seating arrangements used in the Lundy's Lane log cabin they call home it was not going to be easy for the company to weather this latest storm.

They survived SARS and 9/11 but this pandemic has been devastating to the company.  The flood of requests for refunds for cancelled performances was just too much for them, and a benefit performance they staged in May to help keep the company afloat was simply not enough.  There was even a recent GoFundMe campaign to save the company, and now those funds will be returned to donors.

There will be eight full time employees affected by the closure, plus about 40 or so cast members and musicians.  Almost all were local and every single one of them was extremely talented.

Oh Canada Eh! began at the now-defunct Pyramid Place and moved into the present custom-built log cabin in 1999.  That building will now be put up for sale.

Will another similar dinner theatre rise from the ashes to take its place?  We can only hope, as Oh Canada Eh! consistently provided exceptional quality for the money year in and year out.  The precedent will be hard to match but the present management team is not ruling it out.

Thanks for the memories, Oh Canada Eh!, and know you will be missed.

In other news, the popular local In The Soil arts festival has shelved even their online programs for the time being.  The traditional festival was to be held this weekend throughout the downtown core and that had to be changed to accommodate the pandemic closures, so a summer-long online festival was devised and launched in May to replace it.

But in a statement released this week by Suitcase in Point Artistic Director Deanna Jones, they decided to pause the festival for now in light of the current racial unrest going on across North America right now.  Jones wrote:  "We can't justify moving along, business as usual, while acknowledging what is happening in city after city."

The statement adds:  "We stand in solidarity with all black creatives, artists and people in our community and beyond."  As a show of support they have decided to donate 50% of all contributions received through the online festival to the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association.

The company will also be participating in a peaceful demonstration being organized for later today in Niagara Falls.

When the online festival is back up and running again I'll update you on the details in this space of course.

Meantime The Norm Foster Theatre Festival, operating at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre downtown during the summer months, made a happier announcement this week.  Of course, they had to cancel the entire summer season for this year earlier due to the current pandemic.  But a familiar face is returning to the Festival to help guide the company through the effects of COVID-19.

The board of directors announced the return of founder Emily Oriold as incoming Artistic Producer for the Foster Festival.  Emily was Founding Executive Director for four years after the Festival began in 2015.

Emily, an actor in her own right, was part of the World Premiere cast of Alison Lawrence's Too Close to Home at Theatre Orangeville this past March until it, too, closed due to COVID-19.

Oriold will play a critical role in the coming months working alongside well-known Arts Management Consultant Candace Turner-Smith.

Welcome back, Emily Oriold!

And finally this week, The Elora Festival announced the release of the new CD by The Elora Singers, This Love Between Us, which launched officially yesterday.  It will be an unorthodox launch of course due to COVID, but excerpts from the recording will be presented for one week now on the Singers' YouTube channel.  There you'll also find interviews with the two featured composers on the disc along with the Festival's Artistic Director.

The new disc is available on Spotify and iTunes and a CD copy can be ordered directly from the group by sending a request via email at info@elorasingers.ca.  They are also shipping free in the month of June, by the way.

I'll try to get a copy of the new disc myself to help support the Singers and Festival and write about it here in the near future.

That's it for this week; have a good week, keep well and do the best you can to make your community a better place in which to live.

Take care!

June 6th, 2020.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Lots of news and notes to share amid COVID-19 this week

There has been plenty of information that has crossed my desk this week via email relating to the arts, so let's get right to it and update you on some important news.  We'll go from sad to glad in order of presentation here...

Late last week the Lewiston Council on the Arts announced their popular summer events schedule for  2020 has been cancelled.  This includes Bug Fest, the Summer of '69 concert, Blue Monday concert series and the Lewiston Art Festival and Keybank Chalkwalk Competition, all of which will return in 2021.

Artists who were accepted into this year's arts festival will have an opportunity to exhibit and sell their work on the Lewiston Arts Council Facebook page.  Meantime the Chalk Walk Competition will be taken online and opened up as a virtual competition so everyone can become a chalk artist.  The arts council says there is no specific theme for the competition; they want to see what inspires you in your own neighbourhood.

Other unfortunate news from Lewiston includes the fact the ever-popular Brickyard Brewing Co. on Center Street was recently gutted by fire.  The roof collapsed over the the new banquet hall on the second floor, along with plenty of damage to the rest of the structure.

There were no people in the building at the time of the fire, and owners Ken Bryan and Eric Matthews say they will reopen bigger and better than ever in the future.  In the meantime people can contribute to the Brickyard and the employees on a GoFundMe page.  There will also be a Brick by Brick benefit fundraiser to help displaced Brickyard employees on Saturday, June 13th.  Details on these and other ways to help can be found on the Brick by Brick Facebook page.

The Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake has now cancelled events and performances throughout the month of July.  At this point the balance of the season has not yet been scrubbed as has been the case at Stratford, and the Festival is following all public health directives regarding when they can safely reopen.

It is good to see the Festival has managed to keep almost all their artists and arts workers employed, although as we mentioned earlier this month about 70 ensemble members, musicians and other independent contractors have been suspended, and several part-time seasonal staff have also been laid off.

The Festival has re-engaged almost all the artists along with others from the local Shaw Festival family as temporary, full-time employees under a new program supported through the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).  The team of nearly 80 Education and Community Outreach Specialists will work to increase the Festival's connection with the rest of the community by increasing the amount of digital patron engagement, creating online events for Friends of the Shaw and other projects.

As has been the case with earlier season cancellations, a small team of box office representatives is currently working remotely to contact ticket holders to provide options such as holding money on account for future exchanges, converting the ticket value to a charitable donation or if preferred, issuing a full refund.

If you have any questions or concerns you can visit the Shaw Festival website.

This past Thursday afternoon Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts took part in a virtual charity concert entitled United in Music,  to aid UNHCR's coronavirus response.  The UN Refugee Agency's COVID-19 response aims to help protect refugees and the communities that welcome them in the ongoing global fight against coronavirus.

This musical charity fundraiser was initiated by Shlomo Mintz, the renowned violinist and conductor as a response from Bravo Niagara! founders Christine Mori and Alexis Spieldenner's invitation to collaborate on a virtual performance.  That performance included several works including the Concerto for Four Violins by Vivaldi, together with musicians from several orchestras based here in Canada as well as in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The concept then grew to include professors, concert artists and students from as many as 29 countries, with all the music being recorded remotely in each artists' respective homes.

All donations from the concert will go to UNHCR and you can still donate by going to the UNHCR website.  You can also view the concert on YouTube by going to www.BravoNiagara.org.

The Niagara Symphony Orchestra announced this week they have appointed a new Interim Executive Director in order to guide the organization through this difficult period for any arts organization, but especially one already looking for a new Executive Director.

Ms. Gerry Callaghan joins the NSO on contract, bringing years of experience in operations and change management, primarily in the financial services industry, along with several years experience with a local community orchestra.  Ms. Callaghan will be with the NSO for the next few months as the orchestra and Maestro Bradley Thachuk lay out plans for the coming 20/21 season starting this fall.

While one person arrives on board, another leaves.  It was also announced this week Annie Slade will be concluding her time with the NSO as of this weekend following a 5-year journey with the orchestra, helping with the transition from Brock University to their new home downtown at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.  Annie will be off to pursue her Master's Degree in the field of Arts Leadership through Queens University this fall.

Finally the latest concerts in the ongoing #NiagaraPerforms online concert series hosted by the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre have been announced.  The virtual concerts, held each Sunday afternoon at 4 and Thursday evening at 7 have so far attracted more than 20,000 livestream patrons to date.

The latest lineup looks like this:

Singer-songwriter Ariana Gillis - Sunday, May 31st, 4 pm.
Niagara's premiere jazz pianist John Sherwood - Thursday, June 4th, 7 pm.
Singer-songwriter Whitney Pea - Sunday, June 7th, 4 pm.
Shaw Festival Artistic Director Tim Carroll and members of the Shaw ensemble - Thursday, June 11th, 7 pm.
Tony Dekker of indie folk act Great Lakes Swimmers - Sunday, June 14th, 4 pm.
Superstar Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman and Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts - Thursday, June 18th, 7 pm.
Celebration of Nations Artistic Director Michele Elise Burnett & Artistic Producer Tim Johnson - Sunday, June 21st, 4 pm.
Yellow Door Theatre's Artistic Director Andorlie Hillstrom - Thursday, June 25th, 7 pm.
Local artists Lori Cullen & Kurt Swinghammer - Sunday, June 28th, 4 pm.

All of these #NiagaraPerforms virtual concerts can be viewed via the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre website and YouTube channels.

So I told you we'd go from sad to glad, right?

Have a great week, and stay safe!

Saturday, May 30th, 2020.


Saturday, May 23, 2020

As retailers start to reopen after COVID-19, do this...

We've seen some baby steps towards what will become the New Normal in society in the last week; namely, some stores and businesses starting to reopen again after the Covid Curve has started to flatten if not decline to any great extent.

Here in Ontario, stores with street entrances will be allowed to open now provided they follow strict guidelines to protect both the public and their employees.  That means any store within a mall will have to wait for now.

What this means to you and me is we can access more locally and hopefully rely on the internet a little less.  But will we?

I have fears that will not necessarily be the case as people are either A.) still afraid to shop in traditional bricks & mortar shops or B.) simply have gotten used to the convenience of ordering online and having it ready for pickup or delivered right to your door.

The former concern may be reduced over time, although for the time being I understand completely people who feel that way.  Especially those with compromised immune systems or otherwise cannot easily access a traditional store for some reason.  This has become an increasingly scary time and fears are not necessarily unfounded when it comes to community transmission of the virus.

The latter point, that people are now accustomed to ordering online, presents us with a far greater problem.  And it is one I am afraid time will not erase.  If anything it could grow exponentially over the coming years.

Working as I do sorting parcels and such for mail delivery at the Canada Post depot here in St. Catharines early in the morning, I see first hand the effects of rampant online shopping.  Everything from golf clubs to gaming chairs to backup generators have come through the depot for delivery in recent months.

Most popular items to order online regularly still appear to be toilet paper, cat litter and oddly, wine.

I can understand perhaps the attraction of ordering wine online, as just yesterday afternoon while out on my weekly errands I passed the LCBO store in the plaza I was at in the north end and the liquor store had by far the longest lineup to enter.  But I'm not convinced this is the best course of action to take.

With the avalanche of orders for inane things coming in from China, I wonder what people are thinking when say, I see a single sponge being ordered online from China.  Don't laugh.  It happens with great regularity.

Yes it is convenient and yes, the selection is usually great.  But consider this:  if we continue to order online at our present pace we could very well face the realization it is the only way to acquire things, as most stores will have closed up shop.

I know, it is perhaps a little far-fetched at the moment, but look at the bankruptcies we're seeing at an alarming rate these days:  Neiman-Marcus, J.C. Penny and others in the States and Pier One Imports and many others in North America as a whole.

Shopping on Amazon can be a very rewarding experience if you're careful, but Amazon being the only retailer of choice for many people is simply not healthy, for a lot of reasons.  Eventually that will be all we have and I can't see that being for the better in the long run.

There is a fairly recent phenomenon called "show-rooming", where people will go into a traditional store to actually see an item and then go home and order it at a cheaper price online.  Sometimes from the online portal of the same retailer but not always.  You can only take advantage of that luxury for so long before the local store simply doesn't exist anymore.

Working in a CD store many years ago shortly after the dawn of the internet, I used to have people regularly come into the store trying to find a piece of music they heard on the radio.  We would do the legwork usually calling the radio station that played the piece (if indeed they knew the station) and get the details for the customer.  Often they were grateful and would then order the CD from us, but in later years we were increasingly frustrated by people who would use us as a library of sorts to search out the information and then take it and go home and order the CD online from somewhere else.

Eventually we wisely decided to take a different course of action and simply say we knew what they heard and say yes, we can get it for you, without actually telling them the details.  Not the best thing to do but it did cut down on the number of so-called "show-roomers".

The point I'm trying to make here is simple.  Local retailers count on us - you and me - to stay in business.  Today especially as they slowly start to reopen after being closed for the better part of two months or longer, they need our business more than ever.

I realize not everyone has been working steadily during this pandemic and for many of them shopping now is simply not in the cards when they still have monthly bills they have to somehow pay.  But for those of us who can, who do plan to shop in the near future, I can't stress enough just how important it is to shop local.

Your local shopkeepers depend on your - and my - business in order to survive.  If you are not comfortable entering the shop yet, that's fine.  Arrange for someone else to pick it up or even take advantage of curbside pickup or delivery options if at all possible.

Please consider this as we start to reopen.  Amazon may always be there but your local retailer may not always be, unless we make it worth their while to stay open.

Thanks for your time and have a great weekend!

May 23rd, 2020.