Monday, October 30 2023 10:20

Snag a Spot on Santa’s Nice List

Written by Erin McGinniss

Shop small this holiday season

Ring a ling, hear them ring! Silver bells are telling you it’s Christmas time in our towns. Yes, the holiday season is chugging towards us like the Polar Express on Christmas Eve, and it’s time to consider how good you’ve been this year. Did you recycle religiously? Were you focused, or on Facebook, during business Zooms? How about those New Year’s resolutions you made way back in January?

Regardless of your answers, there’s one sure way to guarantee yourself a spot on Santa’s “nice” list this year … shop small!

It’s time to ditch the competitive, elbow-throwing, mall-madness ways of Black Friday and switch to a simpler, do-good and feelgood approach to holiday shopping. Small Business Saturday on November 25 is the perfect way to begin. You may remember that no less than American Express created Small Business Saturday back in 2010 during the Great Recession to bring more buzz to small businesses. It was wildly successful, making this the 13th annual nationwide celebration! And then there was the “Buy local or bye-bye local” refrain a few years back that still holds true.

Why Shop Small?

So, why shop small? What difference does it make, wandering downtown through the warmly lit, red and green garland-festooned streets instead of the starkly lit aisles of Target?

For starters, shopping small gets you — and your community — more year-round bang for your holiday buck. When you buy from a small business, you walk away with more than a unique treasure. You also reduce carbon emissions, create job opportunities and build a stronger community.

Step inside a small shop for a one-of-a-kind, handcrafted gift to put under the tree. As you tap your card across from the smiling face at the counter, think about where the sales tax is going, and smile back. Small businesses’ tax revenue stays within the local economy, supporting public schools, service workers and so much more. Wouldn’t you rather support the families of your community than a distant billionaire?

Mom-and-pop shops add charm and economic roots to a town that national corporations simply don’t. Save yourself the time and trouble of online orders and returns on gifts that are not quite what you thought (despite reading 42 5-star reviews), and get exactly what you can see and touch at a chic boutique nearby. Along with free gift wrapping and no headaches from delayed deliveries or porch pirates.

The Reason for the Season

Still not convinced? Why stroll when you can scroll from the comfort of your blue-lit laptop, you ask? Why brave the winter cold when a worldwide marketplace lies just beneath your fingertips?

Though shopping online may seem easy, getting out and about is the best way to feel the warmth of the season. In-person holiday shopping is a more memorable and enjoyable experience — a gift to yourself — compared to yet another scroll and a click.

So this year, vow to bundle up, head to town and let the local shopping commence! Smile at passersby, start that conversation with the shop clerk and maybe even treat yourself to hot cocoa from a locally owned coffee shop. You’re sure to feel the holiday magic in no time.

Taking to Town

Christmas tree in West Chester

Not sure where to begin? At the end of November, head to Downtown West Chester where Small Business Saturday is a weekend-long event. Yes, you read that right. From Friday, November 24, through Sunday, the 26th, enjoy free parking, reusable bags, special events and giveaways, plus a window decorating contest where you choose the winner. John O’Brien, Executive Director of the Business Improvement District, says, “This is the most important weekend for our retail community. If you want to support local small businesses, this is the weekend for you!”

’Tis the season to dust off your ugliest sweater and sew your heart onto its sleeve, but it doesn’t have to end there. After you check off the final gifts from your list, indulge in the delights of an independently owned restaurant, grab some friends to watch a local light show or parade, and drop a dollar to that guitarist strumming on the sidewalk.

Then, add “shopping small” to your list of New Year’s resolutions, and feel the difference a good deed can make all year long.