We don’t often dole out straight-up advocacy here on the In Box, but this holiday season I want you to at least consider a specific, no-holds-bar appeal: Shop local.
Wherever you are across the North Country, keep in mind all the things that your local, brick-and-mortar (and preferably, mom-and-pop) retailer does for your community.
You want a thriving, bustling downtown? This is one of those moments when you can help make that happen. Are you happy that there are local artists and artisans still working in our region? Your gift-giving this holiday season can re-enforce that cool thing.
Do you want shops and local enterpreneurs that donate to local causes? You help make that happen over the next few days.
I know a lot of people are anxious about the commercialism and money-driven qualities that have pervaded the holiday season. This is one way to put a very clear, healthy frame around your gift-buying. Your interactions with your neighbors will be more meaningful. The things you buy will be more real, more substantive, more connected to our place.
Finally, I want to make a pitch for muddling through the ‘inconvenience’ of local shopping. I know that walking shop to shop in your town may seem less convenient. Maybe in your rural area, you have to actually drive to two or three neighboring villages to get to retailers who have the things you want and need.
Especially this time of year, those little pilgrimages can have big pay-offs. You’ll run into people you haven’t seen for a while. You’ll have a chance to explore your own back yard a bit. Getting everything at one superstore — let’s face it — just doesn’t have the same energy or spirit.
I think you’ll also find that our region has a lot more to offer than you might realize.
Many of our small towns still have remarkably vibrant commercial districts, with innovative, wordly business people. Give them a fresh look. If you can leave a few more of your dollars here in the North Country this weekend, it will mean jobs and vitality in ways that are hard to calculate.
Yes, in some places the goods and services cost a little more, though the price differences often turn out to be a lot less than you think. And you often wind up buying higher quality stuff that was produced more ethically.
Socially responsible spending this holiday season — the easiest shortcut is to stay local. Happy Thanksgiving!