When it was announced that Brown & Roberts Hardware was being sold, my first thought was, "there goes the year-end sale." I shop at B&R year-round of course, but I especially liked the pre-inventory sale which, for decades, was held between Christmas and New Years. The fact that everything in the store was discounted a bit was fun for the wallet, but I also enjoyed saving up a list of things, often as mundane as a certain size of wood screw, a kitchen utensil, some glue, a weird wattage light bulb, which I could have bought at any time but didn't seem to get around to. Then on around December 27 I'd go in and load up on cool, mostly useful, stuff, surrounded by other afficiandos doing the same.
Last year, shortly after the business changed hands, I was only slightly relieved to see the sale happen as usual, but I still figured it would be only a matter of time.... Sure enough, this year, no sale. "We did it in November," the employee reported (in fact, I did buy stuff during that November sale — indeed, I always go in when anything special is happening.) The year-end event, though, wasn't merely a sale. Sales happen all the time, everywhere. The timing was part of the fun. I always treated it as a chance to buy myself my own Christmas present: a specialized hand tool I had suddenly discovered I was lacking, or even one that I only might need sometime.
With the perennial lament about the commercialization of Christmas (my mom wrote a short story in which that was a complaint, and that was about 60 yesrs ago, so this is nothing new) it's probably odd to cite the absence of a sale as yet another example of this, but I feel Brattleboro has lost a distinctive holiday tradition.