As Winterval winds down it’s important that we all remember to shop local
As Winterval winds down after another fantastically successful year, we at WaterfordNow.ie would like to make one suggestion before the festivities get into full swing: shop here at home in County Waterford.
Local retailers play a massive part in making Christmas such a special time so they really deserve our support.
For every €1 you spend with a local independent business, between 50c-70c circulates back into the locality, while shopping online or out-of-town sees only 5c trickle back.
Waterford has enjoyed an incredible resurgence following the crash of ten years ago, and although there are still many challenges facing the city and county, nothing symbolises this comeback than Winterval.
“From the point of view of footfall and that, it’s exceptional,” Mayor of Waterford, John Pratt, said earlier this week.
“It’s Winterval, the Apple Market, the Viking Triangle, it’s the whole package that’s coming together. There’s definitely an increase in visitors to the south-east as a result.
“There are a lot of positives in Waterford at the moment, and from a tourism point of view, it’s starting to catch up with the Killarney’s or Galway’s of Ireland.”
Local businesses not only keep the economy humming, but they also add to the quality of life in our community in other ways.
Seeing local businesses thrive also gives you the feeling that you’re living in a vibrant, growing community, a desirable place to live, work and raise a family.
Local businesses are owned and operated by local people, while even the chain stores are managed and run by people who live in our community.
They work here, coach the local sports teams, eat in local restaurants and live just down the street – when you buy in local shops, you’re supporting your neighbours.
“In 2011, Waterford was in a dark place. Winterval gave us hope,” manager of the Granville Hotel on the Quay, Richard Hurley, told the Irish Independent earlier this week.
“It was like it was raining before, and the rain was never going to stop. Then suddenly, a bit of sunshine came into it. I’m entirely grateful of those who had the idea to put something on here in the middle of those dark days for the city,” he said.
“If you knew what it was like November 2011, if you knew where we were coming from, you’d understand the lift it gave to us in the city. It’s like the Greenway, it’s ours.
“Most weekends now are very busy for us. We have a lot of American tourists that come over because they heard of the winter festival we have here. All of our attractions play a part in Winterval, like the Viking Triangle,” he added.
Meanwhile, Lisa Fitzgerald, owner of George’s Court shopping centre and Carters Chocolate café, said Winterval is attrac ting people from the whole country.
“We are meeting people from all over who come to visit,” she said.
“It’s a focal point of the year because you have people coming home because Winterval is on every year. You’d be amazed where people travel from.
“Last weekend, we had people from Cavan, Meath, Galway and Kerry just randomly coming to us. It brings in a huge influx of tourists from all over the country.”
Celebrating its eight year, Winterval organiser Tommie Ryan is fast be coming a tradition for the city.
“We see how busy the streets are today – it’s a real testament to how many people come and enjoy it. I think it brings life into Waterford,” he said.
“I can’t really remember what Waterford was like before Winterval, and I wouldn’t like to think what it would be like without it.
“People in Waterford absolutely love Winterval. It’s part of Christmas now. There’s kids growing up that for every year, there’s been a Winterval.
“They think this is just normal Christmas which is amazing,” he added.
Customer service of the kind you thought had disappeared can still be found in the smallest of local businesses.
And while all the indications are that the country is getting back to normal after the worst recession in living memory, we must remember one thing – we are more than just an economy.
We are a society of vibrant people and that cannot be measured in shillings and pence alone.
And as we head into 2020, the centeneray celebrations of the birth of our nation over the next few years, let’s remember that buying locally is a gift for us all.