We’ve all been told that “good things come to those who wait.” Unfortunately, with the Christmas season now upon us, “waiting” had better give way quickly to “shopping” if we’re to find the “good things” we wish to give to others.
Minor aside: Here, I’ll mention that I’m one of those individuals who tend to frown when, immediately after Labor Day, I see Christmas decorations on display while shopping. You see, there’s another old saying out there as regards timing: “For everything there is a season.” And Christmas, thank you very much, comes after Halloween and Thanksgiving. Always has. Always will. You could look it up. In the Bible. Ecclesiastes, one believes. Chapter three.
And (he grumbles), with that out of the way:
This year, there are a number of people for whom I’ll be buying gifts. And, as always, I’ll do most of my shopping in small and mostly local businesses. Stores run by families. Shops that cater to particular hobbies or interests. Places that carry the tools, gadgets, gifts, clothing or supplies necessary to pursue the hobbies and interests we all have.
I have nothing against “big box” outlets or major department stores. I use them too when needed, and I enjoy dealing with the people who work there. It’s just that I like the feeling I get in the smaller places I visit first when I need a gift.
In such places, I often find that the owners and employees remember me from previous visits and take the time to make small talk, ask how I’m doing, why I haven’t been around more often and, only later, get around to the question of what I’m looking for. In one small sporting goods store that I’ve used for more than 32 years, it’s almost reached the point where they know when it’s time for me to replace the gear I purchased years earlier.
This year, my first purchase was for the wife of our oldest son. She’s Japanese, likes to cook, and enjoys making the dishes that my wife and I have served her over the years. Even the utensils we use can put a light in her eyes. Thus, when I recently pulled out a very old old hand-held egg beater to scramble some eggs, she was delighted to see a utensil she’d never used. Which, of course, helped me figure out what to get her for Christmas.
Even so, I didn’t know there were that many types available, but it was fun just taking the time going over both “why” I was buying one and the ins and outs of hand-held egg beaters with the owner of the business. Without the crowds. Without parking problems. Without worrying whether I was taking too much of her time.
Another reason I use small businesses whenever I can is that I like the idea that the people who own or operate them are usually there because they fell in love with something they were doing for themselves and decided to take a chance on making a living by selling, making, baking, cooking, sewing, repairing or doing that “something” for others.
Yes, their prices may be higher than the prices I can find in big-name outlets, but I’m comfortable with that. I’m willing to pay the extra money just for the pleasant feeling of supporting a smaller, local business.
I know that there will be times when I’ll end up in the malls or at a large national chain store, and that too will be fine. Usually, though, this will come about by my having been sent there by small business owners who’ll tell me that they don’t carry precisely what I want or need, but that it can be found at Sears, Macy’s, Home Depot, Cabela’s or wherever.
I like that about them too.
So, the Christmas season is here precisely when it should be — after Thanksgiving — and it’s going to be fun searching for and finding the gifts I’m after. Just don’t look for me to be cruising around the malls while trying to find a parking space for my 20-year-old pickup. More likely, you’ll see that truck parked near small stores in Edmonds, Lynnwood or Everett.
Since I already have the egg beater, it’s on to tougher gifts such as what to get for the woman who’s put up with my quirks, foibles, shortcomings and odd mannerisms for the past 46 years.
Not sure yet as to what I’ll get her, but I do know quite a few small places in which to look.
And that’ll work just fine for me.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to email@example.com.