A friend recently posted on Facebook about how she’s committed this holiday season to shopping locally, from smaller shops and vendors, and to buying from her crafty friends who have Etsy shops or other home businesses. It’s a noble effort and one that I want to try out myself and encourage others to do as well, even if it’s only with a small fraction of our holiday shopping.
About the same time I read her post, I was convinced of the importance of shopping locally while reading “This Is Where You Belong” by Melody Warnick. The author recently moved to a new area and was finding ways to create “place attachment” (the feelings of connectedness to a place) and one of her goals was to shop locally. She says: “All the research adds up to this: Shopping locally is a concrete way to help your town thrive economically and to improve your own quality of life where you live.” Or, in other words, you feel connected where you’re connected.
It’s not the local Target we’re talking about here. It’s the smaller stores – even the smaller chain stores – that need our physical and financial support. I was heartbroken and shocked when our local Hallmark store recently closed down. But why was I surprised? I only shopped there once or twice a year. And, as much as I hate to admit it, last year I ordered my Hallmark ornaments on Amazon. I didn’t use my money as my “vote” for what I wanted in my community. I loved walking around that Hallmark store. Warnick describes the decision in these practical terms: “You think about which relationships and stores you want to preserve in your town, and you shop there.”
When I read that quote, the first place I think of is our local used bookstore. Oh, the weeping and wailing that would occur in my house if that store ever closed down! We love going there, yet in all honesty, we don’t make the trip there often enough. When I need a book, Amazon is usually my first stop. I need to rethink that habit.
Of course, it’s not always practical to shop locally or at smaller vendors, and that’s okay. It turns out that even small changes can reap big rewards. There’s an idea or movement, called the 3/50 Project that encourages people to spend a total of $50 at three businesses in our town each month. Although, I think this challenge applies to any smaller vendor, even ones that might not be local. There’s a fantastic world of adorable items on Etsy, a world that I don’t visit often enough, but this holiday season I want to support those smaller businesses.
I know I’ll be using that guideline as I map out my shopping strategy over the next couple of months.
Where do you like to shop locally? What small businesses do you like to support? Please share your stories and experiences in the comments below!