There has been a lot of media coverage about shopping locally, and I wanted to throw my two cents in as well. I’ll preface this with saying that I do shop at and love shopping at Target and Amazon. I’m always one for a deal and on our budget I simply can’t justify spending more for the same product just to support local businesses. That being said, I love shopping smaller, independent shops, and I think it is so important that they remain in our lives/communities. It’s worth noting that not long before Borders announced their troubles our local used book store was also advertising problems and was in danger of having to close. I only shopped at Borders with a coupon and when they closed I wasn’t really affected. However, if Armadillo’s Pillow had disappeared I would have been distraught. We purchased a year membership they were offering, wrote a review on Yelp and amped up our visits to do our part in keeping them open, and they are still there. I think people tend to confuse shopping locally with spending more money and that doesn’t have to be the case. By shopping in used book stores I get great ambience and twice the number of books for my bucks.
By shopping locally you can also often snag yourself one of a kind items that make you stand out. Etsy is a favorite site of mine and perfect for those who prefer to shop online. It’s a worldwide artisan bazaar you enter with the click of a mouse. I’ve always had more eclectic taste in jewelry and I love the fact that when my husband buys me jewelry it’s from a street fair or Etsy, not Zales! Also, as a photographer looking to enter the artisan marketplace I love the idea of supporting those who are more likely to really appreciate the sale. This weekend we went to Shop Jarvis Square, an annual holiday event just down the street from our apt. The local shops/restaurants host artisans and offer an open house style atmosphere to say hello and offer great deals of their own. It was how I imagine “visiting” must have been in the days of yore. We started at Rogers Bark, Oz’s groomer to buy the pup stocking stuffers, and drop off pumpkin bread to show our appreciation for how good they keep our wild beast looking all year, then on to Charmer’s Café for spicy mochas. While there we bought two “sock monsters”, for years we’ve admired this booth and now finally we have the excuse to buy, so we adopted two for the baby (we couldn’t bear to choose one over the other). I gazed longingly at the micro brews and delicious wines on display at Taste Food & Wine, what I wouldn’t give for a tall cold beer. Only a few more months and I can have one! Lakeside Treasures had a spread of food and the perfect candlestick to round out my holiday mantle display!
I had fun shopping at Target the next day, I always do, but there was just a more personable vibe at the local stores. It didn’t feel as much like an errand as an event. So the moral is, shop larger retailers and online, but don’t forget the little guys – trust me, you’d miss them if they were gone. The last thing we want is for America to become even more detached and corporate than it already is, we need that dose of charm that local retail/restaurants provide, it’s what keeps us from completely becoming mindless zombies. Besides, you can’t get handmade adorableness like this just anywhere!
And as a last plug – The 2nd Edition of Crave: Chicago is being launched tomorrow night, and it features the best of the best when it comes to local shopping in Chicago with the added bonus of being all women owned businesses. Annnnd, features photographs by Oz Images Photography. I can’t wait to see the final product, make sure you pick up a copy of your own for the holidays!