Hoping for a beautiful and bountiful Christmas in Killarney


As doors close to browsing shoppers, and pandemic restrictions increase, many businesses continue scrambling to keep afloat at this festive time.

So we decided to look around, and see what innovative and Christmassy ideas were brewing up in town during these last few weeks leading up to the big day.

And it turned out that this year fresh and real Christmas trees are in short supply – and in big demand – for a number of reasons. 

Gorgeous poinsettias are also flying off the shop floor, while the top sizzling sellers in one local takeaway menu are pizza and chicken. 

The trumpeting message from our local merchants seems to be ‘buy local’ when you possibly can, and the local mayor agrees. 

“I think it gets back to what every government official says – buy local,” said Rick Pauls, mayor for the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain, and owner and operator of the Blarney Stone Pub and Restaurant. “Jeff Bezos of Amazon doesn’t need your dollars like Killarney does.”

Pauls, who has been in the restaurant business for 30 years, said that times were already getting more difficult in food service even before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

“Restaurants are one of the hardest hit businesses in Canada,” said Pauls. “Our takeouts have doubled, but we are still missing out on Christmas banquets and other big events. The curbside stuff is great, but people are working twice as hard to make half the money. I think people are hurting, especially hairdressers, estheticians, people in retail, people with independent ownership. It’s everywhere, and it’s brutal.”

Many retailers have coped with the pandemic by creating online shopping formats, he added, which is one way of weathering the storm.

“In any retail space you can adapt and go online, which is terrific, but you miss out on impulse buying,” said Pauls.

One surprise this year has been a rush of Christmas tree sales, said Keith Kemp, who hauls in a trailerload of the scented conifers each year to his Kemp Livestock Equipment rustic shop just north of town.

Normally Keith and his wife Joan host a lovely Christmas-tree purchasing experience for customers, which includes a cheery bonfire, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider.

But that all had to change this year, with pandemic restrictions, and the couple turned to providing a drive-thru pick-up service for the bundled trees. 

And they have definitely seen an up-tick in Christmas tree purchases.

“We have had a real good run on Christmas trees, with over 60 sold already,” Kemp said last week. “People are just turning up. And we can’t get any more because there is a shortage of trees. They are mostly coming up from the U.S., and into Canada through Quebec, but COVID-19 is restricting the imports across the border. We are getting right down; we have maybe only around 20 left. I think demand is also high because people aren’t going south this year for the winter.”

See the list of 2020 Killarney Town Boosters below, along with their phone numbers, and remember to shop local and support the small businesses who support our community.

A PLETHORA OF POINSETTIAS – Sherry Reimer, owner of Community Florist and Gift in the mall, received a glorious shipment of colourful Christmas poinsettias on Tuesday. They are being showcased in her big mall window, and 15 of the blooms had already been sold the same morning, she said. “We have 60 of the smaller ones, and 20 large ones, and the colours include tri-colour, red, pink, and white ones,” said Reimer. “We also have Snoozy and thermal socks, which are really popular at Christmas.”

GIFT BASKETS AT THE BLARNEY – Jenny Beare, manager of the Blarney Stone Pub and Restaurant, said that the Blarney’s new hand-assembled gift baskets have been selling like hotcakes. “People are ordering them, and they are also just coming in and buying them ready-made,” she said. “We are also customizing the baskets; some people are adding a bottle of wine, and one lady asked for tea in hers. We have sold 15 or 16 already. It was Rick’s and my idea to put these baskets together, and it’s really taken off. Businesses in town are all looking for ways to keep their trade going. Our restaurant kitchen is also busy with orders for take-away – chicken and pizza are the top take-out choices.”

CHRISTMAS TREE RUSH – Keith Kemp says there has been a rush on Christmas tree sales this season, with only a few of the aromatic conifers left at his Kemp’s Livestock Equipment location on Hwy. 18.