My husband was dropping off our parcels recently, and a woman working in our shipper's office said, "I was looking at your site, and I think I might buy some of these blankets this year as gifts; I'm mostly shopping online." Another employee chimed in, "I'm going to do all of my shopping online, too."
That evening, he went with our kids to the mall to pick something up (masked, natch), and as he surveyed the hallways — with some permanently closed stores, some shuttered from lack of employees, etc. — Wayne's thought was, "I think I need to do all my shopping at the mall!"
I want local stores. I want in-person shopping. This means independent boutiques, absolutely. And, honestly, it also includes (for me) big franchise stores, too. I want to have locations where I can go in person and touch, feel, and explore certain products; where I can speak to a human. Try on shoes. Smell lotion. And look in others' eyes.
(I also, of course, like niche websites (🙋♀️ dignify) that can offer specific products, selection, and shopping opportunities that would not be possible otherwise. An in-person version of our business would not work, like, at all.)
This past summer, I went to a local lumber store and asked questions about our deck railing. We explored all of the options and priced out all of the pieces of wood. When we went home, the real challenge came into play: do I buy the lumber (at a higher price) from this shop that offered me the help? Or do I use their expertise, but save money at Home Depot?
I appreciated the insight & expertise, which in my experience, is rare at giant hardware stores. Ultimately, if I want to be able to access this (I decided), I need to put my money where my mouth is!
As bleak as it sounds, I am making nearly every spending decision based on who do I want to survive this thing?
If I grab a coffee or we're able to go for dinner, I am choosing the restaurant by asking myself, what restaurant do I not want to go out of business?
If I'm buying a Christmas gift item that is sold in multiple places, I'm choosing who gets my money by which store I most value being in existence.
A positive side effect of this brutal time is that for many of us, we are more aware than ever how (and where, and to whom) we spend our money.
So, this month: shop like it matters! Because, to the many business-owners, to the community served, to the people employed: it does matter!
Just after I finished writing, & posted this, I read this from a dear friend who owns a flower shop (we always joke in the fall that we'd love to hang out... in January!). I've included her words because they seemed too relevant not to share — an earnest glimpse at how customers matter.
If you are shopping at small businesses (or anywhere) this year please be patient and kind (even if you don’t want to.)
Wear a mask (even if you don’t want to) and be extra, extra, extra kind and friendly and funny (even if you don’t want to).
Do what you can to make retail employees laugh, smile and feel cared for (even if you don’t want to!)
Don’t be part of the 10% of positive Covid cases that shopped in retail stores while symptomatic (even if you don’t want to!)
A shut down is terrifying as a small retail business owners.
This is a stressful time of year in retail and especially for small businesses - this is our livelihood and whole world. No small business can afford to close down for two or more weeks right now! It’s not just the shop but the employees and their families, the reputation, the income and the payroll and the rent . . . !!!
If you can buy your gifts from small retailers do it!!! Love them, support them - they will love and support you back!!!
The threat of technology to our humanness is no new fear (hello, Blade Runner! …actually: goodbye, you are a super boring movie 😆). But, there seems to be an acute crisis of our current cultural moment, as we relate to technology.
Here is just a fraction of writings from the past month addressing this:
With so much pain, brokenness, ugliness in the world, attention to beauty, joy, & wonder is absolutely necessary!
Beauty may not solve problems itself... A stunning photograph will not end famine or war. Banksy's graffiti art does not solve Middle eastern contested-land conflicts.
But, the restoration, hope, and inspiration that come from creativity and beauty are like gas in the tank — fuel for the drivers & changers of the world.
We don’t receive a lot of returned items, but it does happen. Of course! There is some degree of risk in shopping online, always.
Stores take different approaches to return policies, sometimes with great sophistication in how it will impact your willingness to purchase. Here's a little peek at what I've learned over the years (as a customer and also as a retailer) about return policies.