This year, my Black Friday purchases consisted of two half-gallons of milk and children’s Tylenol. It depresses me off that stores have been creeping up on Thanksgiving’s turf to feed off adrenalin-fueled purchases. I remember – could it have been in the 80’s? – when K*Mart first announced it would be opening at 5 am. It actually made my teenage-self feel like I had better get there at 4:45 am to avoid missing something! I had no idea what that something was, but it had to be good. It was going to be revealed at 5 am! Now, I have no desire to even shop for socks on a day when others feel compelled to make a deal.
Now, let me just explain plainly that I really detest shopping overall, not just during the holiday season. Since moving to New Jersey three years ago, I’ve been to a mall only a handful of times. And most of those times were under duress for some major purchase that I refused to let my husband make on his own. I hate browsing racks of jeans that all look the same to me. I hate looking at rows of knickknacks, picturing them gathering dust that then forces me to pick up said knickknacks to wipe them off only to put them back to gather more dust. I hate walking into a store and being asked what I’m looking for – because really, I usually have no idea. Like pornography, I’ll know it when I see it. (Except I usually leave without seeing it.) And I hate feeling like I HAVE to buy stuff because I know other people are buying stuff for me. Can’t we just throw dollar bills at each other instead?
The one exception is when I am shopping locally, in small stores that have sales people who know their stuff. And by stuff, I mean the stuff in the store.
All this is just to remind you that these little businesses, the ones that aren’t part of big chains or on-line aggregator sites, need love. I know that finding the time and the wherewithal to get out to stores with or without kids can be difficult. Crowds and parking and shoving and grabbing and not saving on comparison shopping all come together to try to share us away. It’s so much easier to roam a mall or order on-line (flat rate shipping!) But my tactic (and advice) has always been: Buy less and make it count.
Instead of buying 18 gifts for everyone and filling stockings and tree skirts and all eight nights with presents that will soon be lost or broken or replaced with next year’s model, consider extending Less is More to shopping as well as life. Choose more thoughtful – probably slightly more expensive – gestures of your affection for friends and family. It won’t be more expensive if you just choose one purchase instead of three, right?
Shop local! Buy local! Your dollars will make more of a difference, and “Have a Nice Day!” sounds a lot nicer in person than it does in Veranda, Arial, Helvetica, and Sans-Serif.