The shoppingest time of the year

December 17, 2013
By: Vicki Bell

Fascination Baby Hat

Three days ago someone asked if I was done with my Christmas shopping. When I said, “No,” this person said, “Why not?” Not that I owed him or anyone else an explanation, the truth is, I really dislike shopping. I know this flies in the face of the stereotypical thinking about women: Women love and live to shop. Another truth is, I know quite a few men who enjoy shopping far more than I do. That being said, this definitely is my shoppingest time of the year, and I do all I can to make it as efficient and painless as possible. And I’ve recommitted to important criteria in my selection process.

Shopping on Thanksgiving? Black Friday? Forget about it!

Yet another truth, I am in awe of those who continue year after year to hit the malls with friends and family after perusing the ads in search of the best deal. For some, it’s more about the bonding time than the money. For others, it really is about saving as much as possible—probably more so now than in any time in recent history.

First off, I ask all five of our children for gift suggestions for their families. Some are really good at providing wish lists via online retailers. Bless them. I can shop for them from the comfort of my own home and avoid the crowds, germs, and that bah-humbug feeling that comes over me as I struggle to find a size in a rack surrounded by other shoppers.

The two remaining items on my shopping list require visiting a department store and searching the racks. I attempted to do this last Friday, my day off. Many other people also must have Fridays off.

Traffic around the mall was horrible. I walked among the packed racks separated by spaces that accommodate only one individual at a time—politely detouring if I encountered another shopper blocking my path—found two items that I thought I might buy, if I didn’t find something I liked better; looked at the lines at the registers; felt that bah-humbug feeling’s presence; put the items back on the racks; and left the store and mall sans purchase. I’ll be going back on a weekday evening—maybe tonight.

Don’t get me wrong. I love buying thoughtful gifts for my family and friends. For me, it truly does feel better to give than to receive. It’s acquiring these gifts that gives me heartburn. However, there have been some really good, satisfying moments in shopping this year that I want to share with you.

I look at the labels and country of origin on everything I buy. A certain someone who is always looking for organic cotton towels is getting a set made in the USA. Were there less-expensive organic towels available? Of course. Were these less-expensive towels made in the USA? Of course not. Do I have the discretionary income to spend on the USA-made towels? Not really. But it gave me a great feeling to buy them, and I know the recipient will be thrilled that they are made in the USA, as am I.

I’ve also supported small businesses whenever possible. For example, I purchased a piece of pottery from a potter who has maintained a business in the quaint town of Dahlonega, Ga., since the 1970s. Brad Walker’s store is unassuming, as is Brad. You walk in and see his inventory, his potter’s wheel, and smell the unique aroma of clay. You also see Brad, who, based on the photos pinned to the walls in his shop, really hasn’t changed much since the 70s. He still looks like a peace-loving hippie, and I love chatting with him each time my husband and I visit his shop, which is every time we go to Dahlonega.

Another small-business purchase was a 100-percent handmade cap from Fascination Baby for my granddaughter. I love these caps, and have let the business owner know that it would be nice if they also came in adult sizes. They are beautiful and unique.

When it comes to shopping, nothing feels better to me than supporting a small business—the lifeblood of America. Not even saving money. I know what I’m getting for my money, both in terms of the product and personal satisfaction, and it’s a bargain.

I wish you all happy shopping experiences, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209