I recently read that Recreational Equipment Inc. is encouraging their customers to go play outside on Black Friday. They’re not even opening their stores, but rather paying their employees to go out in the fresh air. What a great idea: after the day to celebrate the bountiful harvest by eating ourselves into a stupor, we work some of it off. Of course it would be REI who leads the charge; they are one of a handful of chain stores devoted to outdoor pursuits.
It got me thinking: Do we have to do battle with hordes of other shoppers all looking for the same things? Can gift buying be fun?
Remember Tupperware parties? There are other companies that also sell their products via home gatherings. In my days as Mrs.Suburban Wife and Mother I liked these, although I didn’t buy a lot. But keep an eye open for things your loved ones might enjoy. Your hostess gets credit for the sale and you get an enjoyable shopping experience.
Museums often have nice gift shops. I look forward to the Queens Museum of Art‘s upcoming shopping festival, featuring entertainment and locally made products. My favorite winter hat is from their gift shop and I’m pretty sure that anything I buy there won’t duplicate what the recipient already has. I hope to find something useful that says “Made in Queens” for someone who fled to the suburbs. Don’t know yet what it will be or who it will be for, but I happily anticipate giving the gift.
When you buy at a farmer’s market, you’re buying directly from the source. I wanted to get a red wine gift but don’t know enough about reds. When I asked Dariol at the Treleaven table it sparked a nice conversation with him and another customer about the merits of two different wines. Then I had another pleasant chat with the vice president of the parent company. On a Sunday. Now that’s personal.
I’ve read about buying gifts while on vacation. You find things that may not be available where you live, true, but I haven’t found anything that I’d want to haul home and save until Christmas. But it works for other people.
Why not go to a neighborhood you don’t ordinarily go to, maybe one with a strong ethnic vibe? Have a meal, listen to the sounds of language and music. Buy something you don’t always see, maybe a piece of jewelry, a blouse or a soccer jersey. It’s kind of like getting something on vacation without, sadly, the vacation.
Non-retail businesses sometimes sell pretty things. My local yoga studio sells jewelry, yoga accessories, books and DVDs. A nearby nail salon has hats, handbags and jewelry. Gift cards are super easy to wrap and carry. I think they’re more personal than cash and show the giftees that you know what they like, be it a restaurant, retailer or service provider.
I know I’ll shop at department stores like everybody else. (I don’t order online often; delivery can be tricky.) But I plan to shop creatively and mindfully as well. I want to have some fun with the Christmas gifts.