Go Local for Holiday Shopping

As the holiday season begins, when we dig the decorations out of the basement, hang lights, and put trees in our living rooms, we also start to think about giving gifts to our friends and loved ones. I love this time of year because I love to buy gifts for people. My favorite thing about gift-giving is finding the perfect gift that I know will make them smile and let them know how much I appreciate that they are a part of my life. I also love gift-giving because it gives me another excuse to peruse the local shops.

While it may seem easy to place an order at Williams-Sonoma or head over to Best Buy, consider going to some local stores in your area. Shopping locally supports your local community, as a significant portion of what you spend at a local store goes back into your community. I read that for every $100 spent at a local business, $45 stays in your community; spend $100 at a "big-box" store and only $13 stays in your community. Shopping locally also keeps local stores thriving, providing more local jobs and creating a stronger and more vibrant community. The personal service you receive by shopping locally far exceeds the service provided in many chain stores. The people who own the businesses are your neighbors, maybe your friends, who will go out of their way to keep your business.

Aside from benefiting your community, shopping locally also means you can get some really unique, locally made products that you cannot find anywhere else. Some stores may not sell locally made products, but your purchases still benefit your community. Here are a few examples of some of my favorite local shops from cities I have lived in in Wisconsin:

- Indian Creek Winery, St. Croix Falls: carries locally made salsas, dipping oils, and marinated veggies. In addition they have a great selection of Wisconsin wines.
- Cafe Wren, Luck: aside from regularly selling locally made soaps & lotions and having amazing coffee and food, this cafe also hosts a local art sale just in time for the holidays and regularly features excellent work by local artists.
- Pop Deluxe, Madison: this place has been named best gift shop in Madison for many years running. They just have some really awesome stuff; that's all there is to it.
- Barriques, Madison: with two locations, they have anything you want for the wine lover or coffee lover on your list.
- Three Rivers Outdoors, La Crosse: Also called 3RO, this store has everything you need for the outdoorsy people you're shopping for, from SmartWool socks to kayaks.

I'd love to hear what local places in your community you're shopping at this season, so please post them to my comments. The next time I am in your neck of the woods I'll check them out!

If you prefer to shop online, check out Etsy.com. This website is a showcase for artisans to display and sell their work, from clothing to pottery to purses. The prices range from cheap to expensive, and your bound to find some unique and amazing gifts. While I know this is not shopping locally, it does support some really talented people who make some really great stuff on a pretty small scale.

So as the holidays draw near and you are checking your list twice, consider making your purchases at the local shops in your community before you head to the mall. You'll support your local community and find some pretty cool gifts at the same time!

And since none of my posts would be complete without a recipe, here is a simple one that I am planning on using with the sack of winter squash I got today as a part of a local food fundraiser (I'll add pictures once I make it):

Roasted Squash with Spinach & Blue Cheese
Serves four

4 squash (acorn, autumn cup, carnival, or sweet dumpling work best)
9 oz spinach leaves, washed
7 oz blue cheese (Point Reyes is the best if you can find it)
3 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the tops off the squash, then scoop out and discard the seeds. Place the squash, cut-side up, in a roasting pan. Drizzle squash with 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then bake for 30-40 minutes, or until fork-tender.

Heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan and add the spinach leaves. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until the leaves are just wilted. Season with salt and pepper and divide between the squash halves.

Top the squash halves with the cheese, then return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Season with ground black pepper and serve warm.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Adriane - love the message. I'm a huge fan of Etsy.