Shop local for the holidays.
The pandemic and shutdowns have done a number on small, locally-owned businesses. Sure, lots of them were able to get some government relief, but 2020 has been a tough year. Don’t get me wrong. It has been tough for the big businesses too, but small ones? For the most part, I think they have been hit harder.
Because of that, I plan to shop local and buy lots of local gift cards for friends and family this holiday season. Sure, there are some specially-requested items I’ll have to get at big box stores, but I’ll buy anything I can from local boutiques and businesses.
I don’t know how things will be by the time Black Friday rolls around this year. We have ten more days till it’s here, and I’m wondering if there are going to be some quick shutdowns or new government restrictions before it gets here, so I’m trying to get some of my local shopping done now. Because I’m leaving town for the week of Thanksgiving, I’m ordering gift cards and gifts online from local businesses and either picking up with curbside service or having them delivered/shipped.
Here are some ideas for gift cards, if you are considering gifting from local businesses:
- Restaurants. Locally-owned restaurants and coffee shops have been hit especially hard this year, because of the pandemic. Because restrictions on indoor dining have lasted a lot longer than restrictions on retail shopping, they’ve had to get creative to make money. Many of them went to curbside pickup, delivery, and takeout at the beginning of the shutdowns, and they’ve continued it even after dining rooms have been allowed to reopen, because they are operating at 50% capacity or less. Some have added outdoor dining patios or even constructed outdoor dining areas that weren’t there before. Necessity is the mother of invention. While I hate that they’ve had to do it, I have loved watching the creativity. Most of those mom-and-pop restaurants are selling gift cards, and I’d love to get a gift card to any of my favorite locally-owned restaurants for Christmas! I can use it for dine-in or takeout! Restaurant gift cards are great gifts for anyone! Maybe you want a gift for the person who has everything? A gift card to a locally-owned restaurant is the gift of a night out.
- Gift shops. I’ve checked with several gift shops in my area, and they say they are offering gift cards or gift certificates this holiday season. Some of our locally owned gift shops in Charlotte offer jewelry, personalized items, and even apparel! A gift card or certificate for a Charlotte gift shop would make a lovely gift for female friends or family.
- Boutiques. Most cities have a nice selection of locally-owned boutiques. Charlotte certainly has quite a few, and even some of the surrounding small towns in the metropolitan area have some good ones. Just consider the age/style of the recipient when buying. Some boutiques cater to the younger set, while others have more mature clientele. There are a couple of boutiques where my teenage daughter and I can find both find items, but for the most part, we look for different styles. She’s 17, and I’m 53. That’s a pretty big age gap, and our fashion choices reflect that. She wears short skirts and fashionable white booties that I would never put on myself. I wear lots of things she wouldn’t be seen in.
- Bookstores. If you have any locally-owned bookstores in your area, please try to support them. These stores have struggled to remain open over the last 20 or 30 years. When Amazon started, they sold books…and they, along with the big box book sellers, ran the small bookstores out of business. You can even support local authors! I know some local authors whose books are featured at Park Road Books in Charlotte. Purchase a book by a local author and a gift card to the bookstore, and you’re really helping the local economy.
- Hardware stores. My husband loves a hardware store. Sure, there are the big stores, but often, you can find a locally-owned store in your area. Those mom-and-pop hardware stores used to be the norm, but then the big-box stores moved in. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for capitalism, but I love locally-owned businesses…and the old-school hardware store is special. There are quite a few in the Charlotte metropolitan area, and some of them are fun to browse. My husband has a favorite, so he’ll be getting a gift card to shop there.
I’ve heard people say they don’t like to give gift cards, because they don’t seem like personal gifts. What?!?! A gift card to my favorite locally-owned restaurant or boutique would thrill me! If you feel like it’s no fun to open, you can always make it more exciting by wrapping it in numerous boxes. Or maybe you roll it up in the center of a plastic wrap gift ball. Just wrap it in plastic wrap, and make layers of plastic wrap with candy or small trinkets inside. You can see how to make it here. Some folks do it as a game, but every year, I wrap some gifts for our daughter in a gift ball, and it’s exciting for her!
There are lots of options for “shopping small” this holiday season, and I plan to support those small businesses as much as possible. Shopping locally-owned businesses this year can be your gift to the person on your list and your local economy.