By Greg Amos

Pioneer Staff

When it comes to local shopping, its helpful to employ a travellers ethos of trying to explore every nook and cranny of an unfamiliar place.

While shopping in the valley is hardly a novel experience for most of us, going beyond the confines of 7th Avenue or the Crossroads areas may be the path less travelled. So open your mind, broaden your horizon, and think valley-sized.

Compelling arguments exist as to why we should think about keeping our dollars circulating within the region by buying from local stores; see page 22 for more on that front. But its easy to think were doing the right thing while forgetting about the businesses in Radium, Edgewater and all points north and south of Invermere as we burn through our holiday shopping lists.

Now, Brisco isnt excatly bustling with business. Granted, Canal Flats is far from a consumer Mecca. But searching out a unique gift is only possible if one considers all the options, incuding Fairmont Hot Springs and Spillimacheen.

Many of these locales suffer far more from seasonality than Invermere itself does, so they should be worthy of consideration when looking to support the Columbia Valleys economy while filling the void beneath the Christmas tree.

Deals are available in Calgary and Cranbrook, without a doubt. But factor in gas costs, wear and tear on your vehicle, food and beverage purchases, and you may find the difference negligible. Not to mention the inherent risks in winter driving on

Highway 93/95 or through Kootenay National Park.

If you do blow your budget and credit rating on local shopping, theres always the possibility of salvation through a micro-credit loan available from the fine students at J.A. Laird Elementary and Eileen Madson Primary schools see page 15 for news on that option, should your finances require it.