You've made your list of gift recipients (you do have a list, don't you?) and now you need to get some shopping done. Do you put on your jammies and fire up your laptop or do you fill up your gas tank and summon your good parking karma? For most people, holiday shopping is a combination of both. We'll explore some great ideas for shopping locally first, and then next week we'll roam out to the vast world wide web.The Joys of Shopping Locally
Yes, you CAN go to the local mall, or even the one in the big city down the highway. Personally, I'd rather be drawn and quartered than try and find a parking space at a mall or big box store before the holidays (but that's just me.) I prefer to skip the mall and seek out independent retailers and local artisans that offer unique, funky, or one-of-a-kind gifts.
One of the best things about shopping locally is the opportunity to make it an EVENT. For a non-shopper like me, the thought of wrapping shopping around lunch, dinner, or happy hour with a friend, husband or offspring makes it bearable fun. And I do love exploring, so doing a bit of research and discovering a new store that happens to have just the right gift is an added bonus!
Here's our tips for getting the best out of shopping locally:
Find up-and-coming artisans for good deals and great gifts. Look for craft fairs (they're not just for crocheted toilet roll covers anymore,) special evenings in art-oriented shopping districts, and artists' co-ops that are brimming with unique things.
Thrift stores and consignment shops are perfect for something you'd never find in a mall. You'll
discover most of these stores have their own personality - some lean towards antique and vintage, some have a decidedly hip orientation. Successful thrift store shoppers know you must shop favorite stores - good merchandise turns over in one or two days. However, your persistence can be well rewarded, both in money saved and the most awesome of gifts!
Shop for manly gifts in manly stores. Hardware stores, especially locally owned ones, are great for the DIYer in your life. If your man's a reader, hit the used book store for a first edition of an old favorite. Check out the stores HE visits - the pro shop on the golf course, the angler's paradise with the owner who knows everything fishing, the out-of-the-way gardener's supply (gift certificate is perfect).
Even high-end shops have affordable finds. You may not have the budget to spend a fortune at fancy clothing boutiques or trendy accessory shops, but even those places frequently have a selection of items that are less expensive. Stick your head in and look around - don't be intimidated and you may find a perfect little gift. And it will look even better since they'll probably put it in a fancy box with their fancy name on it - for free!
Electronics usually require a big box store, but not always. By all means hit the Apple Store if an iPad is on your gift list. However, if it's a camera, odds are your local camera/photo store has a knowledgeable staff, which is infinitely better than the college kid who keeps texting his girlfriend while you ask questions at Best Buy. The camera may cost a bit more (or not,) but you won't feel like screaming uncontrollably after shopping. Bonus - local stores often include free lessons with purchase!
Joan and Nancy
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