I love to shop. Just about anyone I know will attest to that fact. I love the thrill of finding a great bargain and, particularly at this time of year, the perfect gift.
I will not lie. I often go out of our local area on shopping excursions. But I also buy close to home often too. I truly believe in supporting local businesses as much as possible.
This past weekend offered an interesting perspective on the value of that practice. On Friday I made a trip to Middlebourne to seek a particular gift that another local shop owner told me I might be able to find there.
She was right-on the shelf was exactly what I sought. Sort of a "Miracle on 34th Street" moment, don't you think? One retailer actually sent me to another store for the sake of finding the right item!
Then I saw another thing I thought would make the perfect gift. When I inquired as to the price, I found it a bit out of my price range and declined the purchase.
As I continued my browsing, the clerk came back to me, told me the owner had agreed to give me 25 percent off of the asking price, so I bought it and am very excited to see the recipient open this special treasure on Christmas morning.
What major retailer would offer 25 percent off of a purchase without a door buster sale or internet special? None that I know of.
I continued my shopping and purchased, I think, two more gifts in Middlebourne. For those keeping score, that's four gifts purchased from pleasant retailers in uncrowded stores.
On Saturday I went to Charleston to cover the state cheerleading competition and was looking forward to some retail therapy while there. I was armed with a list I had checked twice. I had a game plan and coupons. I was ready.
I wasn't ready for the crowds. The mass of people and our accompanying stroller made the experience miserable. We made tracks to the places on my list and got out of the Charleston Town Center as quickly as possible, giving up our spot in the parking garage to someone in the long line of eager shoppers. I'm sure the excitement wore off for them as quickly as it did for us.
Score. . . Middlebourne, four; Charleston, two.
Monday took me to Hundred where I quickly picked up two more gifts without any hassle.
Middlebourne, four; Charleston, two; Hundred, two; and I don't even know how many gifts New Martinsville has supplied.
I know you can't get everything you want or need from local vendors. Some things are just so specialized that they require more foot traffic than our local population can provide, but my experiences lately just affirm what I have known all along. Right outside your front door are business owners you know, live beside, went to school with, serve on boards with, or go to church who are the very best people to hand your hard-earned cash to this season and every time you have a purchase to make.
I have to make a trip to one of our bigger shopping areas this Saturday and I truly am not looking forward to it, but sometimes it just has to be done. I'd take a leisurely visit to one of our local small towns and its stores any day over facing those crowds again.