Local merchants fuel the local economy

For more information, including a list of locally owned businesses, check out www.livelocalrenosparks.com.
More information about the Shift Your Shopping movement can be found at http://shiftyourshopping.org/2011.

Over the last several years, the holidays have all started to run together. It isn’t inconceivable to walk into a big box store in shorts and buy Halloween candy, your Thanksgiving turkey and a new Christmas tree all in the same trip. Retailers understand that Americans have a rather short attention span, and we are prone to impulse buys.

In today’s dismal economy, Americans’ dollars are rather scarce. Our economy is still in the doldrums, and the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. The white noise coming from both sides of the political spectrum as to why things are still so bad has reached deafening levels, and it’s taking a terrible toll on our society. Everybody wants to blame everybody else, and it’s easy, albeit counterproductive, to do so. The good news is we as private citizens can do something to help boost our flagging economy.

This holiday season, pledge to buy smarter, buy different and above all, buy local.

Many retailers build their entire business strategies around the bump they receive at the holidays, and they are aggressive about making it pay off. This year, Walmart will open its doors at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and many stores will open as early as midnight Thanksgiving night. The concept of a “doorbuster” item has morphed from an attractive sale or special to entice buyers to a weird ritual where people camp out front of a store for hours on end for the opportunity to claw and bite their way toward a $20 laptop or some other such nonsense. In the past several years, people have been trampled to death seeking out these items, and maybe I’m off base here, but Thanksgiving is a day to relax with family, eat too much and watch football, not a day to sit out in front of a big box in a lawn chair looking like a tool.

It’s time for a shift in our thinking. You don’t necessarily need to alter what you want to buy, just buy it from your neighbor instead. For example, who doesn’t love a coffee gift card in their Christmas stocking? I know I do. This year, however, mine are coming from Bibo Coffee Company. Online music gift cards are OK, but how cool would it be to find a gift certificate for a few hours of pet sitting from Fetch! Pet Care? As the proud papa of a new pug puppy, that would certainly make me smile.

Nary a year goes by without a fair amount of fashionable new togs under my family Christmas tree. I’m looking forward to seeing the new designs this season from Reno eNVy.

No holiday is complete without food and drink. The West Street Wine Bar is an excellent place to pick up a case or two for gifts. The 775 Gastropub is an excellent restaurant, and they frequently feature live, local entertainment. If you’re taking the family out for post-shopping breakfast, head down the street from the mall to the Wet Hen Café. The owner raises the eggs they serve in the restaurant on their very own farm. If you desire local, sustainable ingredients at home, shell out the 15 clams for a membership to the Great Basin Community Food Co-op.

Hands down, the must-have gift for families with young children this year is a family membership to the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum. It is far and away the most amazing thing to happen to Reno as of late, and no gift eclipses that of the gift of knowledge.

I’m doing a fair amount of shopping on Black Friday, and I hope you do as well. Join me in pledging to help revitalize our local economy. The local gifts you buy will ensure your family has a happy holiday season, and the local money you spend will ensure small business owners have one, too.