Where do you do most of your holiday shopping? China? Malaysia? Singapore? If you shop at most chain stores, you are in many cases, spending your American dollars overseas. Consumers flock to chain stores for lower prices, but even in high end stores like Bloomingdales, a quick label inspection might reveal the overseas origins of a $350 purse.
When American dollars are spent at stores that support foreign manufacturing, the money goes out and never comes back. This can result in lower wages and layoffs of American workers. That worker may be someone in your family or a neighbor down the street.
One way of turning the tide is to keep your money at home, in your neighborhood, or at least in the U.S.Local artisans and crafters can provide beautiful items of high quality not found in many mass produced items from overseas. Scouting your local holiday art market or craft festival will lead you to affordable holiday items handmade by someone with whom you can deal directly.
Think about someone on your gift list right now. Someone who needs some earrings. Only have $30.00 to spend? Sure, you can get them at Walmart or Kohl’s on your charge, but you can also get them on etsy.com or at your local Holiday Art Market direct from the person who made them. Most take credit cards. They might gift wrap it for you, and ship it to the person you are buying it for with a personal note. Is Kohl’s going to do that for you? Some people think that buying from a handmade artist is always going to be more expensive than retail. This is not so. In our example above, your $30 gets you a lot more than just a well made pair of earrings.
By taking this approach to your spending, you are not only benefiting the artist but also yourself and your local economy. The artist or craftsperson is likely to take your dollars and spend them locally as well, thus pumping up your local economy. I call it the pixie dust effect. Buying from one another locally spreads the pixie dust of economic growth around your town and onto one another.
A sampling of upcoming Holiday Art Markets in the Philadelphia area: