With less than a week before Christmas, local tourism and hospitality officials are urging folks to stay close to home for those last-minute gifts.
Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said shopping with local merchants will help those small businesses that have seen their livelihoods threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.
"I just encourage everyone to do some shopping locally with small businesses," Dunlap said last week during an update on local hospitality and tourism efforts in Hall County.
Besides helping traditional small businesses, Dunlap and other officials suggested the last-minute gift buyers considered buying from locally owned restaurants and from tourism attractions, which have also been affected by the pandemic.
Buying and giving a gift certificate from the local restaurant will help the business now, even though that meal may not be enjoyed until months later.
"It doesn't seem like a $25 or $50 gift certificate would do a lot, but if a lot of folks did that, it's really going to help them out," said Regina Dyer, tourism manager for the city of Gainesville.
Dyer said restaurants were forced to close early in the pandemic and have been operating at limited capacity since they reopened. Restaurants typically operated on lower profit margins, so any assistance will help them.
And Dyer reminded people that some local attractions have gift shops that have great Christmas ideas, and others, she said, offer memberships or special programming that would be good gifts, too.
"That's what makes our community great, our great restaurants and attractions," Dyer said. "And we need to do everything we can to help them during this time."
Some of those attractions include Northeast Georgia History Center, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens Gainesville, Elachee Nature Center, the Quinlan Visual Arts Center and INK, among others.