Drive into Grand Haven's charming downtown on any given weeknight during the Christmas season and you'll be greeted by warm and inviting lights, colorful holiday decorations, and plenty of "Closed" signs.
At a time when shoppers are out in full force, attempting to find the perfect Christmas gifts for family and friends, we're always eager to support local businesses whenever possible. Unfortunately, that becomes difficult when many of the quaint downtown shops don't keep their doors open past 5 p.m.
They're not all closed. A few neon signs still glow "Open" after 7 p.m., but not many. Most are restaurants, although a few shops are also open for business well into the evening.
Imagine the frustration of those who do remain open, hoping to draw in holiday shoppers. That would be much easier to do if a larger percentage of stores on the few blocks of Washington Avenue remained open.
We understand that it's not the easiest task for these small stores to extend their hours. They're family-owned operations. Staying open late means working longer hours, or spending the money to hire more help.
It's certainly a double-edged sword for these business owners who are attempting to maintain a healthy balance between work and family, attempting to keep overhead costs low, and still draw enough customers to keep the cash flow flowing.
It's not easy, but it would be a great benefit to our downtown, which is already hindered because of the limited types of goods available.
Looking for specialty jewelry, fun toys for the kids, trendy clothes, gourmet food selections and other somewhat unusual gifts? You should be able to find them downtown.
Plus, there's something more romantic, more charming and more rewarding about the small shops that make up our downtown. When you buy from a local business, you're making a difference in your community.
We would encourage holiday shoppers to give these downtown businesses a look over the next few weeks.
At the same time, we encourage the businesses to make it easier for shoppers by keeping your doors open later.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.