I was in a local retail store last weekend, browsing a bit, when I overheard an obviously-not-from-here couple discussing an item the man liked (I wasn’t eavesdropping — it was close quarters). The woman suggested that he buy it.
“I can get it online,” the man said as he examined the item.
“But it’s right here, why don’t you just buy it,” the woman responded. Reasonably, I thought.
“I can get it online,” the man reiterated, as if that were something that did not need further explanation.
It was only the better angels of hospitality that kept me from blurting, “well, why don’t you just buy it here, even if it costs a little more, to support this store and help keep this local economy going so this will continue to be the kind of community you like to visit.”
There’s no question mark at the end of that sentence because I would have said it as a statement, not a query.
But I kept my annoyance to myself. To be fair, the couple had probably dropped a few bucks here during their stay, and the man was looking at a discretionary item. Maybe I’d do the same thing if I were shopping at a store in Seattle.
Still, it was a sobering reminder of the rigid thought process that drives so much shopping in the digital age. There’s hardly anything of consequence that you can’t buy online, where alluring bargains abound. It’s undeniably convenient — we all do it. Some people shop in person only to compare prices, then go home and buy it online, and the bricks-and-mortar model for retailing takes another small but cumulative hit.
Like others, I’m a bit spoiled by the ability to buy Methow-made products in person, in so many places. For most Methow Valley residents, “shop local” isn’t a marketing slogan but a deliberate way of life. We are acquainted with many of the producers and store owners, so know exactly who we’re helping to make a living. In turn, with that income they can buy the local goods and services they need from the same people who are their customers.
This is the time of year when “shop local” takes on special significance. It’s a crucial couple of months for many valley businesses, notably the smaller ones.
All of us can help. Frequent the valley’s merchants even more frequently — they are offering lots of good deals. You’ll find a lot of useful information in our holiday gift guide pages (A6 and A7) in this week’s issue. Take advantage of the holiday gift bazaars in Twisp and Winthrop, and other special events such as Mistletoe Madness. Stop by the Valley Goods Gift Emporium at TwispWorks. Check out specials at some of the local lodging establishments — you might be inspired to treat yourself.
And, one of the enduring attractions of locally made products is that they too can be purchased online by fans of the Methow Valley and all the things made here. You’ll find the necessary information in the Methow Made magazine that has been distributed around the valley, or by going to methowmade.com.
For my part, I’ll continue to not berate out-of-town shoppers, and instead look for opportunities to be helpful. In a way, we’re all salespeople.
Giving from the heart
There’s still time to make a difference in the Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Manger Mall programs, which make the holidays happier for many of our fellow valley residents. Each year, this community comes through with uncommon generosity. Gifts, food, cash — it all comes pouring in for the Manger Mall event and the Neighbors Helping Neighbors food basket distribution. Volunteer help is also needed and appreciated.
For details about how to participate, see the information on page B6 of this week’s issue.