Five Reasons You Should Shop Local this Holiday

As much as How the Grinch Stole Christmas tries to convince me otherwise, shopping is undoubtedly an important part of our culture’s “Holiday Experience.”

But does that mean my holiday is Who-ruined by toys? Is my Who-Holiday doomed to NOISE, NOISE, NOISE?

What if my shopping could be different this winter – and not in a mall?

What if this year I shopped local and small?

End of rhyming.

Here are five reasons to shop Tacoma this holiday.

1.  It Improves Holiday Shopping

Here’s the scene: You’re circling the Tacoma Mall parking lot like a starving buzzard, re-reading your shopping list and swerving out of the way of full-carted, and empty-walleted pedestrians.

Finally inside, you rub elbows with people who do not like their elbows rubbed. “Jingle Bell Rock” is the new anthem to your own personal hell.

This is the “Seek and Destroy” method of shopping in action.

As an alternative, a study by Cambridge found that shopping locally, “increases levels of social capital [valuable social networks] and well-being within a community.”

Instead of stressing the mall or hiding behind a computer, shopping downtown can actively improve your life.

  2. It’s an Investment

A slight increase in price for local shops can be a deterrent to shopping local. That is, until you read the research.

A study published in 2002 by the Civic Economics Journal found that “…spending $100 at Borders creates $13 worth of local economic activity, while spending $100 at local stores generates $45 in local economic activity.”

According to this research, twenty dollars at Walmart, and twenty at King’s Books, mean very different things. But what does that “local economic activity” actually look like?

A 2013 study by the University of British Columbia found that when residents spent money at small businesses it translated “… into about 2.6 times as many local jobs created.”

It creates jobs! I hear those are great. I could use one.

3. Tis’ the Season

Shopping local means more than just crossing another gift off your list.

“A girl who created a zine [magazine] for us came down from Olympia,” remembers Ossain Cardenas, co-owner of Nearsighted Narwhal, 6th Ave’s creative bookstore. “She came with her family and while she was here she saw a customer buying her zine. She started crying, you know? It was the first sale she’d ever made. Her family celebrated right there in the store.”

You think the CEO of Best Buy cries with happiness when I buy a laptop cover? If they do, at least they have wads of hundreds to wipe away the tears.

4. The Love Gets Passed Along

Local businesses support one another.

“Almost everything we sell is consignment,” says Cardenas, gesturing to walls covered with art and stacked with books. “Every purchase made is going back to local artists.”

UrbanXChange teamed up with local artists, too, in the form of pop-up booths for coffee companies and jewelry makers on Small Business Saturday.

The “competition” between our local businesses looks a lot like partnerships.

5.  Tacoma Makes Awesome Gifts!

This should really be number one. If the joy of shopping is discovery, Tacoma has joy packed in every shop.

When I went into Tacoma’s Nearsighted Narwhal and UrbanXChange for interviews, I walked out with Christmas gifts. No one asked me to buy anything, I didn’t bring a shopping list, and there were no ads or sales begging me for money.

It was the excitement of finding the unexpected, of making me say, “This is so cool!” and “You know who would love this?” that made my shopping experience more than a transaction.

Think of it this way, through buying local you’re really giving five gifts in one. You’re giving a business owner their rent, a neighbor a job, an artist their first sale, Mom something thoughtful, and yourself a great experience.

It’s a way to give five times much as you receive. And isn’t that precisely what [insert every holiday movie ever] tells us the holiday season is really about?


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