Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ten on Tuesday | Shopping Locally

Perhaps you were in line before eight o'clock on Thursday, perhaps you stayed out all night in search of the season's best deals but unlike many, Trevor and I skipped out on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Though I've managed to snag luggage and expensive sweaters on Black Fridays past, this year, I've been focusing on keeping my Christmas spending local, handmade and small. (Plus, it's Tuesday and I'm really confused about why I'm still receiving Cyber Monday e-mails.)

You've undoubtedly heard of Small Business Saturday, a product of American Express. Am I the only one who finds this ironic? But, I've tried to make shopping small a bigger part of our holiday shopping. In Montana, our shopping options are limited in many ways. Our only affordable local grocery stores, chains.  (Though, we are glad to support Hennessey Market for our gluten free needs and the Good Food Store when we make it to Missoula.) For that reason, we unfortunately do much of our grocery shopping at Walmart. Perhaps its that guilt that's led to my newest insistence for support independent artists and local businesses.

I know that the idea of not shopping big box stores seems revolutionary to some and so, I've dedicated this week's Ten on Tuesday to ways to support local and small businesses.

1. Independently owned restaurants. Rather than grabbing chicken fingers and fries at Applebees or a microwave-cooked meal at Red Lobster, try eating at local dives and family owned restaurants. When out shopping with friends, grab a sandwich and soup at a local eatery instead of a burrito from Chipotle. A second way to support local restaurants? When you don't know what to get someone, grab them a gift card for food. Perhaps your friend or in-laws haven't had a chance to check out the new local place but buying them a gift card is not only a great holiday gift but also a great way to spread the word about supporting local.

2. Local coffee. Yes, we all love Starbucks. Especially those holiday cups, right? But, most towns have their own coffee shops - even in Montana. Actually, here, we have these adorable little coffee huts. You drive up to a little wooden shed, order your coffee and get on your way - without the Starbucks line. When family is in town to celebrate, consider picking up your morning joe from the local coffee shop instead of Dunkin Donuts. Gift cards and locally roasted coffees also make great stocking stuffers.

3. Microbreweries. Let's be honest, most of the guys in your life would prefer a six pack of unique beers to a new sweater. Chances are you can find a local brewery near you to - according to CraftBeer.com, most Americans live within 10 miles of one. If you need helping finding local beer, check out their search. In Montana, we have Big Sky Brewing Co. and Bayern Brewery in Missoula for beers and Headframe Spirits (located in uptown Butte) for various liquors.

4. Florists. Many florists now network with companies like FTD or Teleflora but making a purchase still benefits the small business front you are shopping through. A great gift for your boyfriend's mom or perhaps even grandmother is a holiday wreath. Wether you're looking for real or fresh, chances are, you can find a great option through your local florist. And, after years of working for a florist myself, I know that hurricane centerpieces are also a big hit when you're hosting holiday dinner. If you're in the central Pennsylvania area, I highly recommend Pealer's Flowers but no matter where you live, there are plenty of choices.

5. Handcrafted jewelry. If there are women on your shopping list, chances are that you have jewelry on your holiday radar. Though big box stores offer plenty of choices, local and handmade jewelers offer even more unique options. My personal favorite? Tina Steinberg's line of clever charms, personalized lockets and fingerprint jewelry.

6. Clothing. New clothes are a girls best friend. Or at least their best weakness. Though I will always love swooning over Anthropologie's newest finds, I have tried to add more handmade clothing choices to my wish list. During winter, new hats, gloves and scarves make great gifts for friends and Etsy is full of hand crocheted and knitted options. For Aiden this year, I chose a Montana shirt from local Montana mom & maker, Nici Holt of Dig This Chick. And personally, I'm hoping for one myself.

7. Non-profit Giving. Making a donation to a community non-profit in a friend or family member's name is a great choice for someone who is impossible to buy for. Eventually, this donation comes back to benefit the community where you live, as well. Other options include purchasing toys for families in need or donating holiday dinner ingredients to local food banks.

8. Shopping on Main Street. Like I mentioned this weekend, Anaconda held a great Christmas Stroll on Black Friday. The idea? To get locals shopping on main street. While your town may not host a christmas event dedicated to shopping locally, you should take the time to check out your downtown or local farmers market. In Wellsville, we had Weaver's Meats - and who doesn't want a gift certificate to buy meats and cheeses? I mean, that'd be a great gift in our house. Anaconda, on the other hand, has gift shops, clothing boutiques, and bakeries.

9. Christmas bazaars. Another way to support handmade gifts is to frequent the little bazaars that seem to show up this time of year. These craft shows usually feature an array of products - candles, candy, clothing, something for everyone - even pet treats! Better yet, these events are a great way to spend time with family or friends. Check your local newspaper and store bulletin boards for dates and times.

10. Pampering. Spas, hair salons, and nail salons are typically locally owned and operated. For the guys in your life, massages are also a great option. For a meaningful gift, take your girlfriends for a pedicure on you before all your biggest holiday party. Go for a couples massage with your boyfriend. Get your mom a gift certificate for a hair cut and color.

While there are other ways to support local and handmade businesses, I think that these suggestions provide a great start for changing your shopping habits.

So tell me, what are your favorite handmade or local businesses? 

No comments:

Post a Comment