PRETZELS AND BEER Todd Laidlaw of True Grain Bread in Summerland brings out a tray of freshly made pretzels during the third annual Summerland Sip N’ Shop event on Saturday. At right is Sam Rosen of Detonate Brewing in Summerland. The event paired beverage producers with local businesses for the evening. (John Arendt/Summerland Review)

COLUMN: Creating a positive shopping experience

The Summerland Sip N’ Shop on Saturday offered a relaxing atmosphere

The festive season is supposed to be a wonderful, joyful time of the year, and for the most part, it accomplishes this goal.

The biggest damper, at least for me, is the ritual of gift shopping.

Holiday shopping does not count as one of my 10 most enjoyable activities of the year. It’s not even in the top 20.

Too often, shopping during the festive season can be a bit hectic — and I’m not one of those people who waits until Dec. 24 to get started.

Shopping during the holiday season takes a lot of effort.

It involves making a list and checking it twice, then dashing through the snow to the stores.

If one or more of the items happens to be one of the year’s more popular gifts, finding it becomes an additional challenge.

READ ALSO: Millennial Money: How procrastinators can win at gift-giving

READ ALSO: Listening to Christmas music too early could affect your mental health

Shopping trips at this time of the year seldom go as smoothly as planned.

The other day, I was at a mall out of town, trying to do some of my holiday shopping.

On this evening, plenty of other shoppers had scheduled their trip to the mall for the same time as I was there.

As a result, the atmosphere was one of throngs of shoppers, rushing from shop to shop.

Store staff were doing their best to help customers and answer questions, and I applaud their efforts. It’s a hectic time of the year for anyone who works in retail sales.

At the end of the evening, I wanted to get as far away from a mall as possible.

This is when I consider doing all my shopping online next year.

It’s also when I wonder if it would be a good idea to forego gift exchanges entirely.

Such thoughts have me wondering if I’m turning into Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch.

After this last mall experience, I wondered if Saturday shopping in Summerland would turn out any better.

That evening, from 4 to 8 p.m., merchants in downtown Summerland opened their doors and invited customers in for a relaxing evening of shopping and wine tasting at the third annual Summerland Sip N’ Shop.

The event was organized by the Summerland Chamber of Commerce as a way to promote local wineries and beverages producers while also driving some traffic to downtown businesses.

Some of the businesses had live music playing, some had product samples and activities and others simply offered a relaxing mood for holiday shopping.

This last piece was perhaps the most important element of the evening.

This is how a December evening in the downtown area is supposed to feel.

READ ALSO: Half of shoppers say they have no holiday spending budget

An evening event like the Summerland Sip N’ Shop is no small undertaking.

It involves a lot of organization from the Summerland Chamber of Commerce, the participating merchants and the participating beverage producers.

There are also costs involved in booking musicians and paying staff for the evening.

Events of this nature don’t just happen. They are the result of hard work and dedication.

But the results, from what I saw on Saturday evening, were worth the effort.

People were out shopping, savouring wine and enjoying the evening.

And unlike my last mall experience, I felt good. I wasn’t rushed.

By the end of the evening, I was feeling something approaching a festive spirit.

Anyone who can make the holiday shopping experience a bit more enjoyable has my undying admiration and respect.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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LIVE MUSIC Bob and Jackie Farmer of Sedona performed at Purple Hemp Co. on Saturday evening during the third annual Summerland Sip N’ Shop event. (John Arendt/Summerland Review)

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