Shopping in Style

Black Friday at the Arnot Mall
(Written Saturday, posted Sunday)

Yesterday (Black Friday) I was in my hometown in Western New York State. My daughter and I spent the Black Friday morning checking out the deals at various chains and non-chains. We found bought a few tings. She found 2 pairs of jeans from Pac Sun and a sweatshirt at Victoria Secret (she had several gift cards from her recent birthday). I bought some silk blend yarn from Wooly Minded, but would have bought more at a large chain had the line not been about 50 people long.  We also stopped at The Crossings outlets at the border of PA and New Jersey. We actually spent twice as much time maneuvering parking than actually shopping. The huge crowds helped us to decide that after striking out at a few stores we called it a day. (I did buy a few $7 necklaces at Chicos).

Diego supporting Somerville, NJ
Today is Small Business Saturday. I wish that there were as many small businesses to support as large chains. If a pollster called here and asked me about my opinions versus my habits, I'd have to admit that while I strongly prefer to support a Mom and Pop business, I do spend the vast majority of my money at chain stores. This weekend is no exception.

This morning I spent about $30 at The Hungry Hound. Diego loves to go in there, but sometimes it's hard to control him. I didn't really need anything - we've started to give him leftovers as his main treats, because I like to know what he's eating - but I wanted to support the store, so I picked up a few things. Then I tried to shop at another store that I've been planning to support today for several weeks. But no... they don't open until 11. I don't want to say which store, because I like them, but on a day that is being promoted nationally to boost small businesses, shouldn't they be willing to open a bit earlier on a Saturday morning... like 10am? While I understand that small businesses cannot compete with national chains in terms of labor and opening hours, especially when they create maniac-hours on Black Friday - on the busiest weekend of the year, even smaller shops should make an effort to draw in crowds. I'd already paid for parking, so I really wanted to shop then. It didn't occur to me that the store wouldn't open until 11am on Small Business Saturday on Main Street in Somerville.

Sigh.

And now I wonder: I don't need ANY yarn. I have a closet full. But I want to support the local economy, so do I attend one of the two special yarn sales that Pam blogged about this week? The Far Hills farm is probably about 10 minutes drive from here... (I did buy something at Down Cellar last week). But I simply don't need ANY yarn. Do I support them because I believe in shopping local? Or do I do the sensible thing, save my money and stay home.

Decisions, decisions?

In the end, the most important thing is to try to support smaller businesses over chains consistently. In terms of yarn and dog supplies (though not food), I do. The vast majority of my yarn comes from LYS (local yarn shops). Maybe it's like attending a religious services only on holidays. It's all well and good that you include some kind of celebration (if you believe, that is) into your traditions, but it's much better to be a good person all year long.

I want to support my favorite Somerville shops, like Discover Wine and  Alexandra's Boutique, but unless I happen to be in Somerville, convenience seems to always win out. Price, is also a factor. And, Macy's seems to lure me in with their "something for everyone appeal" and their unending coupons. Finally, it doesn't help that the last time I went on a shopping spree, I was parked 15 minutes too long and found a ticket. This is definitely a deterrent to head to Somerville. Disorganized people like me run the risk hidden costs.

Everyone is hearing that as a consumer-driven nation, increased sales will help the economy (whether or not I agree is another point entirely). If I want my local community to thrive, I need to put my money where my mouth is. I just wish I could have gone to one more store this Small Business Saturday morning. I planned to go back in the afternoon but trimming bushes and yardwork won out. After 15 trips with the wheel barrel, the sun set, and with it went my motivation...

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