I’m not much of a holiday shopper. OK, I’m a terrible shopper period.
I generally don’t enjoy wondering around stores looking for things I might want or things I might want to buy for others. It’s just not my idea of fun.
I don’t like for salespeople to help me. I always say, “I’m just looking.” I get in and get out as quickly as possible.
During the holidays, though, I do my duty for the family and for the economy and buy things. The spirit of the season helps me cope.
One of the best things I’ve done in recent years to make the shopping experience pleasurable is to buy almost exclusively from local independent businesses. One year I bought just about everything on my list from stores on Madison Road in O’Bryonville, and another year I focused on Hamilton Avenue in Northside.
Living in Clifton, I also tend to get a lot of gifts from shops along Ludlow Avenue. I stop there every year, no matter which relatives or friends are on my list.
Shopping local businesses is a win-win, I think.
First, walking up and down neighborhood business districts is a vastly better experience than pushing through crowds in a mall. I’d much rather park on a city street or an off-street lot and walk around outdoors than fight horrible traffic at malls and highway interchanges.
Secondly, I know that the money I spend — no matter how meager — goes back into the local economy instead of being shipped off to corporate headquarters in Columbus, New York City or Bentonville, Ark. Money spent in local businesses more effectively recirculates in the local economy than money spent in chain stores, because local stores tend to buy their supplies and inventory from other local businesses and employees, all of whom are local, recirculate their paychecks in the local economy.
The final “win” from shopping in locally-owned places is the satisfaction I get in helping a small business. CityBeat is a small, locally-owned business, and I know first-hand how difficult it can be to compete against national chains.
When the economy is tough and people start cutting back, small businesses have less margin for error. Many won’t make it to the other side of Christmas this year.
CityBeat is supporting a holiday promotional program put together by alternative newsweeklies across the country in which we’re challenging readers to pledge to “shop local” during this holiday season. Consider spending $100 of your shopping budget this year at local independent businesses — if you do you’ll be entered into a contest to win prizes (see contest details here).
If every CityBeat reader takes the pledge, we’ll generate $33 million in the next month for the local economy — much more than if we all shopped at chain stores.
Please take our challenge and shop locally. I will. As quickly as possible.
CONTACT JOHN FOX: firstname.lastname@example.org