Holiday shopping in My Town, Kentucky, USA

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and good ‘ol Saint Nick is starting to take notice of who is being naughty and who is being nice.

One way of being really nice would be to pick up some “unforgettably you,” smile-making stocking stuffers or a few heart-warming presents you could only feel good about putting under the tree.

Imagine its Christmas Day.

It’s Christmas Day; as you stand there in the living room, seeing the tree sparkling, decorated and aglow. The lights are just right; you hear the music, soft and low, swaying in the background, reminding you of what life’s really all about — family, and love, and sharing and thankfulness.

Then you hear a name being called, pulling you back, ever so gently, into the Christmas picture. It’s the name of your loved one being called, the one for whom you bought a present. Your loved one moves close to the tree, hands out, heart open.

Flashing back to a few weeks ago, you thought about buying an online gift from one of those way-to-famous, get-it-all-here, one-stop shops (it fits all sizes, anyway) places. Then, briefly, only briefly, before you were overcome with feelings you couldn’t stand, you thought about just adding one of those pre-paid gift cards to your purchase at the grocery store. But, you didn’t want to be that person, the person who gave that gift.

And now that the present is opened, the smiles so bright — it would be absurd to ask (how could anyone not know), as so many have, and will ask again — “do you like it?” Really?

You shopped local this time, taking a path that made all the difference.

You did your shopping in Hometown, Kentucky, USA.

With all the promise of so much joy, for so many people, why wouldn’t everyone shop locally?

There are only two answers: Time and money. Right?

And when we get right down to brass tacks, it’s just money. If you are like most, chances are you think it’s just more expensive to buy locally. And maybe it is, but not always. I’m constantly amazed at what great deals I can get at local shops.

But, even if it were always more expensive, would it be worth a spending a couple of extra bucks for that Kodak moment? How much is a Hallmark Christmas worth? Is it priceless?

I don’t know. I’m not a rich guy, myself, but I’d pay a lot to see my wife smile on Christmas morning, because I bought her a Kentucky crafted present. It’s like one of my dear friends here at the Arts Council explained to me, “I don’t have the finances to only shop locally, but I do all that I can.” That makes sense.

The number one reason to shop locally is because it will make your loved ones happy, on Christmas day and throughout the year.

Many of those gifts, bought from mega corporations whose names begin with A to W on down the line to Z, have a shelf life somewhere between a couple days, a week, or perhaps a month, at most. Then, it’s off to the next shiny toy — at least that is my experience with a lot of the gifts I get.

It’s the rare ones: a precious work of art, a moving piece of music recorded by a regional band, furniture, food, drink or other gifts of joy, which I treasure throughout the year. What would you treasure, I wonder, that can only be got locally?

Shop local; there are other good reasons. Shopping locally supports the community, keeps money in your hometown, goes to pay wages of our neighbors and artisans (writers, crafters, painters, musicians, and many other wonderful people we could not live without) who work in our community.

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The shop local gifts are sure to be unique, showing just how much you love someone. The crowds are smaller, the shop keepers and other shoppers are by far and away, much friendlier.

Another thing I know that doesn’t occur to us too much: shop keepers are people too.

If you didn’t think shop keepers are people too, you’re not to blame. It’s hard to think of those companies as people, because they’re not. But local shop owners are people, who often struggle to make a living, in a world gone corporate and online, schlepping stuff made somewhere far away.

This Christmas you can bless your loved ones and yourself by buying a My Hometown, Kentucky gift. Your purchase will also bless your local shop owner. Think of buying your hometown gift as your little present to those who do so much to make your community the wonderful, livable place it is.

Buying locally means buying two gifts (one for your loved one and one for the shop owner). You can’t beat a “buy one, get one” deal in terms of value.

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