These days online shopping has become the default for most of us. Why risk going into a crowded store when you can kick your feet up and just click on your Amazon account? The simple answer is that your community NEEDS you. Your neighbors who own and/or work at local businesses need this holiday season to be successful in order to ensure their survival.
Before you search Amazon or the website of that box box store, please take an extra minute to try to find a local business that also offers online shopping. Many small local businesses, like my friends at Barrington Books, also offer curbside pick-up and ship-to home.
By the way...FYI- Barrington Books isn't just about books. They have some GREAT gifts, including jewelry, Simon Pearce glass, music on vinyl and a big toy department. My wife and I always do a lot of shopping there. They sponsor my show, but I'm also a big fan of theirs.
Shopping Small may take some creativity and a few more minutes of searching, but I guarantee your local business owners will appreciate it. Some suggestions...
- Instead of a bottle of booze.... Give wine from a local vineyard. We have lots of great ones in Southern New England. A few times I have given gift bottles from Diamond Hill Vineyards, which is around the corner from where I grew up in Cumberland. I always mention that fact in a card with the gift and people love the personal connection. More recently I've discovered Verde Vineyards in Johnston, which has four wines I love. (Talk about service... One time I called the vineyard to check their hours and got a recording. Five minutes later, the owner, Jim Verde called me back to apologize for missing the call. Who else does that?!)
- ... Or beer from a local brewery. There are now DOZENS of local breweries in Rhode Island, and a handful of distilleries. There are so many I could write a whole series of separate columns (maybe another time). Just Google "Rhode Island breweries" and you'll have plenty to choose from!
- Instead of Omaha Steaks...Send a gift card to a local butcher or seafood store. Personally, I love Michael's Meats in Cumberland, Blackbird Farm in Smithfield (local meat!), and Daily Catch Seafood in Greenville (ask for Danny). They all have superb products and top notch service.
- Instead of Amazon gift cards... Give gift cards to local shopping centers, like Warwick Mall or Garden City.
- Instead of Lowes or Home Depot... Shop at an Ace Hardware. You can find most of the same products, but with more personal service, including recommendations from knowledgeable people. I have depended on the Depault family at the Ace store in Cumberland for decades. You can sometimes find lower prices online, but you will never find the level of service that Rich Depault and his team provide. The other Ace stores in Southern New England are also independently owned. (No offense to anyone who works at the big box stores. I know you need to feed your family too, but I'm pretty sure they'll be OK without my $50 purchase.)
Whatever you're shopping for this holiday season, there is a good chance you'll find it locally, so before you click on that Amzon.com bookmark on your laptop, please take a moment to Google local options. Your neighbors will thank you!
photo: Bill George