Small-Town Holiday Shopping in York Durham Headwaters

’Tis the season—the season of peace on earth and goodwill to all; of carols and candy canes and holiday baking; of decking the halls (the front porch, the family room, every other square inch of house and home, etc.) with festiveness. It is also the season to get out the good ol’ debit card and knock some of that Christmas shopping off your list.

If you are like the majority of the population here in Southern Ontario, you are probably planning on accomplishing this task by one word: MALL. Oh, the mall with its crowds and its congested parking lots, with its overheated shoppers clad in winter coats and clunky boots. Bet you can’t wait to get started…

No? Well then, let us present you with an alternative solution that will turn your holiday shopping from a chore into an experience. This season, shop Small-Town Main Street in YDH.

Erin Window Wonderland
Small Shops Xmas Shopping

A Small-Town Main Street Christmas

Your shopping adventure, should you choose small-town simplicity over major metropolitan madness, is guaranteed to stand out for several reasons. Here, we have a glimpse of what awaits you on our Small-Town Main Streets of York Durham Headwaters. Spend a day strolling, browsing and chatting. You will be sure to head home with more than just hand-picked gifts for your loved ones. You will head home with warm, wonderful memories of the time you spent shopping for them.

Reason 1: Superior customer service

We are proud to claim that the majority of our small-town shopping districts in YDH are historic main streets. These avenues, lovingly preserved by local and municipal government councils or BIAs, are a step back in time to a simpler way of life. There is an atmosphere on our Small-Town Main Streets—a sense of heritage and tradition. Of course, at Christmastime, that atmosphere is enhanced when our historic main streets are resplendent in holiday finery. This atmosphere, though, is not only visual. It is perpetuated by the businesses that populate our main streets. These are, overwhelmingly, independently owned and operated by proprietors who live in the community. Their welcoming service is a reflection of their small-town values.

“Shopping in a historic downtown is a unique experience,” says Robyn Mulder, Economic Development Officer from the Town of Erin. “You can expect smiles from store owners and personal attentive service from people who care. Also, there are plenty of one-of-a-kind gifts and a fun time for the family… not to mention the fact that there are no long waits in lineups. That’s a bonus.”


Cathy Holmes of Bowmanville agrees. She owns the medical uniform shop Scrub’n in Bowmanville, and is the events chair for the town’s business improvement association. She says that shoppers in Historic Downtown Bowmanville can experience that old-world charm with all the latest up-to-date gift ideas in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. “When you shop small business, you avoid the lines and the crowds at the mall and you get exactly what you’re looking for,” she says. “Shop owners in a small town go that extra mile to satisfy their customers… who soon become friends.”

Reason 2. Shopping events

As Robyn Mulder of Erin says, “Downtown main streets are the heart of a community. They are a place where friends can meet.” Because our municipal organizations and business associations know that this is an inherent attraction for many visitors, they go out of their way to make Small-Town Main Street shopping special. There are always events throughout York Durham Headwaters to excite gift seekers and make small-town shopping an experience.

As an example, the businesses of Historic Downtown Bowmanville are hosting their annual Moonlight Magic and Christmas Market on Friday, December 6th. Store hours will be extended until 10pm, and the event will feature a tree-lighting ceremony, live entertainment and carol singing. Many of the local businesses will be offering special deals, too, so it is the prefect time to cross a few gifts off your list.

Large Christmas Tree Downtown

“We welcome everyone to check out the Christmas Market located in the King Street municipal parking lot,” says Cathy Holmes of Bowmanville BIA. “It features plenty of unique handcrafted items, a display by Powell’s Tree Farm with live Christmas trees for sale, fresh-made mini donuts, roasted chestnuts, and hot chocolate and cider.” In addition to this, the main street will be closed to traffic, and horse-drawn wagon rides will take you from one end of the street to the other.

In Unionville, you can combine your Small-Town Main Street shopping with the town’s annual Candlelight Olde Tyme Christmas Parade on December 6th. “This is a yearly tradition, and one that is unique because it is at nighttime,” says Sarah Gratta who is with the Unionville BIA and is the owner of Main Street Unionville’s Too Good General Store. “Crosby Arena will be open for a free public skate that evening as well, and there is entertainment on the street after the parade.”


Reason 3. Supporting local business

The best thing, we think, about shopping Small-Town Main Street during the holiday season is that you are supporting your community’s economic success. As we mentioned, most of the businesses in our YDH small towns are independently owned, so the money you spend is often going back to your community.

“Supporting local business is hugely important to the economy,” says Sarah Gratta of the Unionville BIA. “When you shop local, you get a level of service and quality you won’t find in the mall. Our shop owners are all hands-on, and will spend time with you to help you find exactly what you are looking for, because they have a vested interest in making sure you leave happy.”

Cathy Holmes of Scrub’n in Bowmanville points out that supporting local allows the town’s BIA to host all the great events and festivals that visitors enjoy throughout the year, in addition to the ones during the holidays. “The downtown is the heartbeat of our community,” she states. “Many businesses in our downtown are family-owned and operated, and many of them have been so for decades. These businesses give back to the community by sponsoring local charities, sports teams, and ensuring that our community continues to be supported and thrive. By shopping local, you are supporting families instead of huge corporations.”


For events happening on Small-Town Main Street here in York Durham Headwaters, check out our listings here:

Story by Katherine Ryalen

Ryalen is a Durham-based author and lifestyle blogger. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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