'Tis the Season to Shop Local
The most wonderful and most chaotic time of the year is upon us: the holidays. With a late Thanksgiving, all holidays are compressed this year into four weeks which is putting retailers into hyper-drive for their critical fourth quarter sales. Even Rudolph is making an early appearance on Tuesday, November 26th
which might possibly be the first reindeer sighting before the Macy’s Parade
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because, it was free of the shopping and gift giving crush. Yes, there is the pressure of cooking and making everyone happy, but in my family, Labor Day weekend brings the same amount of preparation. And cooking for family and friends is an event in and of itself. Yet for many, this holiday has become all about door busting bargains and racing to sales in the middle of the night -- our annual Black Friday post
gives you details about that. Some people in Ohio
set up tents and generators in front of a Best Buy ten days beforehand. You have to wonder if eventually TV sales will outpace turkey sales.
Shop Small Campaign
This is why I am thrilled to see the Shop Small
movement take hold. Yes, it began as a new marketing campaign to keep people shopping during the time between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I have to give American Express credit though (no pun intended). In this their fourth year, they launched an interactive map – of businesses who accept American Express – and teamed up with Twitter
to offer free advertising for businesses who register before December 31st
. From a business standpoint, this is a great way to kick-start your use of online listings and social media. You can register with one of your trusted vendors and take a spin through their listings and maps. The US Small Business Administration offers resources
to make the most of the next month as well.
From the consumers' stand point, this is one way to explore wherever you are for the holiday or even find little known places in your hometown. I am looking forward to discovering some hidden gems on the back-roads of Vermont this weekend rather than the aisles of a box store. The American Express maps let you search by category
(shopping, dining, entertainment, services, and travel) in a geographic region. Watch for multiple pages in the listings though. I missed the gray arrows at the bottom of the listings at first. The map display is pretty tight if a lot of businesses are listed in a particular area like Burlington so my advice is to watch for arrows and the numbers at the bottom of the results box. In more rural areas, they give you a wider reach to see places that may be 10 or more miles away. I particularly like this since I will need a lunch spot between Grafton and Rockingham.
Shop Small Vermont
This is the 2nd
year that Vermont businesses have jumped onto the Shop Small bandwagon in an organized fashion. One day just isn’t enough though. With the help of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, our downtowns are making this a holiday-season-long promotion called the 50%50 challenge. This campaign encourages everyone to purchase half of gifts and services from local businesses. Why half? Well, we can’t easily purchase a VT made television, but we can buy flowers, clothing, food, and just about everything else if we take a little extra effort.
Enrich your holiday experience by investing in the Vermont 50%50 Challenge. Support your community by doing at least half of your holiday gift buying with Vermont's local retailers, artisans and craftspeople. Many of Vermont's 24 downtowns celebrate the season with organized events and promotions that save you money plus help you have a jolly good time uncovering one-of-a-kind treasures.
If hunting for the perfect gift in the green mountains isn’t incentive enough, 14 downtowns will organize events from tree lightings to parades, all of which adds festive experiences to the shopping list. Event listings are coming togethe
r for many of the towns, those with a detailed calendar include:
: The heart of granite country will once again celebrate a Barre Merry Holiday
beginning on Saturday, November 30th
with parade and tree lighting.
: Declaring every day a holiday, their calendar
promotes art openings, charity events, free movies, music, and dance that make them one of Vermont’s most active arts communities. You may film your Brattleboro experience and submit it to their YouTube channel
: Kicking-off the holidays, the Church Street Marketplace tree lighting is the day after Thanksgiving where it will be anything but business as usual. Many local merchants
will open early on Saturday for shoppers to keep you busy all day with kids activities, Women’s Festival of Crafts
, and tasty dining options.
: All things “very merry
” are planned all month with multiple Santa visits and activities. They also thought of the grown-ups by organizing “Stag and Doe Night” (Dec 11th
), an evening out for dining, shopping, and Whistle Pig spirits
: Our state capitol promises to “light up winter” with a series of events. They’ll start by taking Black Friday on with their own Flannel Friday
: wear flannel to score deals. On December 5th
, you can join Governor Shumlin for the Statehouse tree lighting
: The rail city will honor both sides of the holiday spirit on December 7th
with 5 trips on the Santa Train and tours of the Grinch’s Lair. A 12 Days of Christmas contest and animated merchant windows fill out the month.
: Little known outside the Mad River Valley is Waterbury’s River of Light
. Large scale lanterns light up the night as the entire city turns out to celebrate on December 7th
Shop VDW's Portfolio
Several Vermont Design Works clients can also help make your holidays merrier with shopping local for unique gifts and experiences. This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t offer a few for you to consider for Shop Small, Cyber Monday, and throughout the year:
- boysenberry: handmade fleece and organic cotton clothing available online and in their Rochester, VT store.
- Eat More Kale: expanded line of hand screened clothing and recently added hats, yoga mats, and other items in their online store.
- Flynn Center for the Performing Arts: for someone who has everything or who loves any and all performances -- and you can select your own seat.
- Hearthstone Stoves: this is the first year that you can purchase your stove directly from Hearthstone.
- Sparkle Stories: original stories told by the authors, David Sewell McCann and Lisabeth Sewell McCann. They reached #1 in their iTunes category this fall.
- Vermont Food System Atlas: the consumer side of the atlas lets you search for products, markets, and all things farm and food in Vermont.
- Vermont Stage Company: celebrate their 20th anniversary with performances this winter and spring.