Thanks to American Express, post-Thanksgiving shopping now encompasses not only Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but also Small Business Saturday. This type of corporate support can do a lot to raise the profile of localism. But the “shop local” thing really represents a grass-roots movement, fueled by people all over the globe who get the critical importance of supporting small, independent businesses in their own communities.
Why Local Matters
While Black Friday is all about getting the latest item before stores run out — or getting the best deal while it lasts — buying from independent local shops has a less fleeting purpose. It actually helps sustain and build the economy in your town (and neighboring towns) by increasing the amount of times your dollars can circulate through the local economy. The “love your local” and “shop local” campaigns throughout the Delaware River Valley have undoubtedly made a difference over the past few years, keeping many shops going and even thriving despite the weak economy. We can show our appreciation by supporting those shops during the holiday season. And we can go a step further by seeking out items that are sourced and/or made locally (artisanal foods, fine art, hand-crafted gifts) or that are made from eco-conscious materials and support triple-bottom line and fair trade practices.
How to Shop Local
The Delaware River Valley offers endless opportunities to shop local, independent, hand-made and green.
- On the town. New Hope, Lambertville, Stockton, Sergeantsville, Frenchtown, Doylestown and Newtown…take your pick or visit them all. For details
New Hope: http://www.lambertville.org/
- Off the beaten path. When you’re heading “into town,” don’t bypass the many unique shops tucked in along back-country roads. If you’re looking for something out-of-the-ordinary or representative of the area, also consider shopping for gifts at farmers’ markets and farm-owned stores. Check Fresh’s Local Resources: Farm-Fresh Food for ideas.
- At galleries and art/craft shows. In addition to the many galleries throughout the area, there are plenty of holiday shows featuring local artisans and fine artists. One of our favorites is the Covered Bridge Artisans show: http://www.coveredbridgeartisans.com/. Check local papers for others.
- Online — but local. If you’re more of a Cyber Monday kind of shopper, you can still support local businesses simply by visiting their online shops. It’s also possible to search for local vendors on large online marketplaces, such as Etsy.com, the “Amazon” of handmade gifts. (Full disclosure: Fresh recently launched an Etsy shop featuring hand-painted picture frames. You can visit at: www.etsy.com/shop/freshbyhand.) To find vendors close to home, simply go to Etsy.com, click “Shop Local” and type in your town and state.
Have a great Small Business Saturday — and local holiday shopping season!