Many of us have too much stuff, and with the holidays upon us, more stuff can creep into our space. My dilemma is shopping locally, versus not shopping at all. I have grandchildren, and as much as I like to buy them presents, I refrain and give them money (so they can buy their own stuff), take them on a small trip, or go clothes shopping. However, they outgrow everything before they wear out anything.
I seldom shop online. When I do, it’s for things I can’t find in town, like bamboo tea and almond flour in bulk. Nor do I shop in big box stores. I find Target, Kmart and Home Depot overwhelming. Costco also does me in, although every five years I forget and shop there anyway. I go for toilet paper, and $350 later I leave with a cart full of unnecessary items that I’d no idea I couldn’t live without, including enough Q-Tips to conveniently last me another five years.
I do most of my purchasing in the Valley because:
* This is my community, and shopping here makes me part of it. Everyone at my bookstore knows me. So do the clerks at the chocolate places, the spice shop, and the garden stores. For gifts, there are a myriad of establishments to go for cool things. Most of the local restaurants know me, and kindly serve me tortilla soup, tom kah, or tandoori chicken when I yearn for comfort food. I shop at our grocery stores, including the one with that crazy painted chicken; they carry what I need to make chili verde. I’m a regular at the Friday farmer’s market. I have my hair done here. My physician, eye doctor, and dentist are in town. So are my gas station and mechanic, along with my attorney, accountant, and bank that I’ve been with since second grade. The clothing stores know me, and by the looks of my closet, we’re best friends.
* The money I spend in Sonoma Valley circulates many times throughout the community, rather than benefitting the likes of Amazon (and yes, I’m without virtue here as my books are on Amazon, though I continually shoo people to our bookstore).
* The businesses I frequent generously donate back to this community. Many are involved with our nonprofits. They advertise in the local papers, magazines, and radio, keeping those ventures vital. They hire our family and friends, they’re kindly, and they care. They’re part of our warp and weft, and I’d like them to remain. They are a giant slice of why I love living in this valley.
* My business is here. Nearly every inspector, contractor, and repairman I refer is local. I use Sonoma title companies and lenders. I’m in real estate and it kills me when someone sells through an out-of-town agent. Unless they’re related, a friend, or bought through them, there is no good reason to list a property with someone from out of the area. That’s a chunk of money that leaves our community and goes elsewhere.
* When we don’t patronize our local businesses, here is what happens: they can’t keep their doors open. Then we end up with 25 wine tasting rooms on the plaza. Just what every small town needs. The tourists love it, though that’s another conversation.
So when you feel the urge to buy stuff, please, buy locally. Have a glass of wine while you’re out and about these holidays. It’s so convenient, have two. As I don’t like wine (oh horror), I’ll be at the ice cream store, where they know me.