The shopping days countdown till Christmas has started, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve been scoping out gifts for your friends and family for months. (Haha, yeah right!) Most people I know wait until after Thanksgiving to start shopping. Or the day after. The formidable Black Friday.
If you’re living under a rock, Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Most major retailers open exceedingly early and offer promotional sales. It has customarily been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005.
Now, I’ve never gone shopping on this day, never mind left the house. I’m usually still tryppin’ on L-Tryptophan and passed out on my aunt’s couch with a glass of wine balanced precariously on my lap. Who in their right mind wants to think about Christmas shopping in the glorious post-Thanksgiving afterglow? Shoppers wait in line from as early as midnight to dash into department stores for what? Discounted microwaves? BOGO socks? I’d much rather sleep ‘til noon and pay the regular retail price.
Oh, and get this! There’s a website that keeps track of Black Friday tramplings/deaths — blackfridaydeathcount.com. You might think, “Oh, seven deaths isn’t that big a deal.” But remember: those seven deaths occurred from people crawling over each other to get a cheap Furby or memory card. Now that’s alarming.
Only in America do we trample each other for more stuff the day after we give thanks for what we already have.
For those looking for deals without the madness, Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) is a friendlier alternative to the ominous Black Friday. This is a day to support the local shops that create jobs, boost the economy, and sustain neighborhoods. Instead of being trampled by hundreds of greedy shoppers in Walmart, why not support your own neighborhood? As a former salesperson who has exclusively worked for small and family-owned businesses, I can tell you that A LOT of work goes into running these places — more than one would think. Employees typically have the responsibility of running the entire store. I’ve opened, received, priced and displayed hundreds of boxes of merchandise in just a few short hours. I’ve also stayed after hours to put up fake trees, string lights, wrap boxes and paint windows. Small businesses are a work of love and passion and owners genuinely appreciate their customers.
If you’re convinced enough to give local shopping a try this year, check out these amazing shops.
Beauty and the Bath: A whimsical gift shop established in 1986 within a quaint village seaport. This is the perfect shop to stock up for girls’ (or guys’) night in! Bubbles, bath salts, perfume, oils, lotions, candle, powders, PJs and robes. They also host birthday parties! 11 West Main St., Wickford. beautyandthebath.com
The Crabby Lion is an unconventional, ecocentric shop featuring repurposed and completely one-of-a-kind furniture, bamboo bedding and clothing, local art, and organic makeup. It’s a colorful and curious space bursting with whimsy and joy. Have an idea for a piece of furniture? The store also takes commissions and will work with you to create an original masterpiece. 800 W Shore Rd., Warwick. thecrabbylion.com
Simple Pleasures is a beautifully rustic shop tucked away on the East Side of Providence. Handpainted pottery, cashmere scarves, quirky greeting cards, hand-carved shell bangles and handwoven throws are just a few of the many goods you will find here. 6 Richmond Square, Providence. simplepleasuresprovidence.com
The Fantastic Umbrella Factory is more of a small village than a store. Established in 1968, FUF is a collection of eclectic shops. Step into Small Axe Productions for gifts, clothing, jewelry and musical instruments. Factory Gardens houses fancy plants, tropicals, perennials and more. The quaint General Store carries an an assortment of treasures, candy, toys and gifts for the young and young at heart. Other stores on the property include Frills, Axiom, Block Print Graphics, Henna Body Art and SoCo Artisans Loft. Take a break from shopping and feed the goats, emus and ducks you’ll see wandering about. 4820 Old Post Rd. Charlestown. fantasticumbrellafactory.com
Farmacy Herbs: This is an undoubtedly unique spot with an overabundance of bulk dried herbs, tea blends, herbal products, local honey and books. Knowledgeable and experienced herbalists offer nutritional healing, consultations and herbal education classes. All herbs are organic and grown in RI. 28 Cemetery St., Providence. farmacyherbs.com
Frog & Toad: This unusual little neighborhood shop has an ever-changing selection of items from around the world with tons of locally made goodies as well! You’ll find jewelry, handbags, throw rugs, table linens and textiles, locally-printed and designed graphic T’s, Fair Trade handicrafts from around the globe and much more. Browsers are always welcome. 795 Hope St., Providence. frogandtoadstore.com
Employees of small businesses recognize regulars and maintain relationships with them to keep them happy and satisfied. And who wouldn’t want that?