November 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm
Black Friday - the busiest retail shopping day of the year – is next week. But rather than getting up early and rushing out to buy your holiday gifts from the Big Box retailers, try a change of pace and show your local community a little holiday love by shopping from independent, homegrown businesses.
I really don’t think of myself as a “Scrooge” or “The Grinch” but in recent years I have been really sickened by how commercial the holidays have become. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like the T.V. advertisements are starting earlier and by the end of September, your mailbox is already starting to bend under the weight of all the catalogs.
This year, we have committed to buying local – that is to make purchases from independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses. And if that is not enough to stuff the stockings, we are giving a gift that helps support a local cause. Why local? Studies have shown that when a community invests in local businesses, those local businesses are better able to re-invest in the community by sponsoring local schools, community events, and non-for-profit organizations. Put simply, local economies become sustainable.
But before you start thinking of all the disappointed looks you’ll get from recipients of these gifts (for example when your aunt presented you with the puffy, embroidered, Christmas Sweater), check out some of these cool ideas.
List of Local: Search your local Chamber of Commerce Website for a list of local businesses. Many independent businesses are now teaming up to offer group discounting or other sales this holiday season. And don’t think you can find that specific gift someone has put on their list? Just ask as many independent retailers and order in an item and may be willing to price match.
Support a Local Venture: With the emergence of crowd-funding, you can now give someone a really neat gift while funding a new, local business venture. Kickstarter lists many businesses that are local start ups (you can search by city) that offer incentive packages for funding their new ventures. There are levels that you can invest in that will result in some great gifts to give (maybe in the form of an I.O.U. until the actual incentive shows up). As an example, I just invested $50 in a local start-up burger joint and can name a menu item after my husband. It is worth noting that you only get the items being offered (and you only spend the dollars) if the concept is fully funded, so if you want a guarantee that something will be received as a gift, invest in something that is already fully funded.
Give a Global Gift: It may not feel local, but you a doing good when you spend your holiday budget on items that help others. Global Girlfriend is one of my favorites and is a fair trade organization that gives a percentage back to women in the form of micro-loans. If you want to name where your contribution goes, check out Gifts that Give. For every $5 spent, $1 is given to an organization of your choice. We also love giving gifts from World Vision and Heifer International, especially as hostess, neighbor, teacher, and corporate gifts (because who really needs another cookie plate or fruit cake!).
So next Friday, get out there and shop – but try to shop local and spread the holiday love around.
Kate Ruffing transformed her home on Bainbridge Island, Washington, into a “sustainable living lab,” where she explores living an eco-friendly lifestyle that works for her and her family. She shares her sustainable living solutions on her blog Camp 4, and here on Momster.com.