From the Blog

Holiday Local Gift Challenge

I was thinking about all the hoopla surrounding Black Friday and “Cyber Monday,” (the word “cyber” should be stricken from the English language, in my honest opinion) and I, like many other overfed post Turkey Day smug assholes, did not buy anything. Much has been said about the sport shopping that takes place during the holidays, so I won’t rehash it here.

But boy, I like feeling smug. And with our low income lifestyle, we’re not rolling in the dough. So how could I do at least a little shopping, get some gifts for my family and friends, and maximize my greenie anti-consumer smug factor? Well, I could buy all my gifts locally. I could go even further than “local,” I could attempt to buy gifts for everyone from businesses within one mile of where I live.

Now. I happen to live in a town that has a dense, walkable downtown that caters to visitors and tourists. It wasn’t always so, but Astoria is reinventing itself as a tourist destination. So I have an array of retailers and local folks I can buy gifts from, with no real mega stores within a mile from my house.

I realize not everyone lives in a tourist town, and some people live in a thicket of big box mega businesses. Now, being the elitist liberal greenie smug puke face that I am, I do know that those big box stores employ your neighbors. But they also funnel your money to Minnesota or Arkansas, depress wages, and make it harder for local businesses to compete. They don’t need your money like small businesses do.

I also realize that a lot of people don’t live within an exact mile from where they can spend their money. But it’s worth it to look within your own town. There have got to be artists, crafters, mom and pops, one-of-a-kind independent stores, and local services who plug the money right back into the community.

Is it more expensive to buy local or handmade? Yes, probably. But do you want to stretch your dollar buying loads of cheap crap, or do you want to get nice things for your family and friends? Don’t you love your family?

So this is what I’m going to attempt to do. I live in Astoria, Oregon, and I pledge that I will buy every gift from the town that I live in. 

As you know, this means everyone is getting dried salmon.


  1. Huh – I’m from MN and I never knew those megastores funneled their money to my state! I wonder where they hide it all???

    I like buying locally. I like feeling smug, too. I also like buying from artistis on Etsy (which you can do a “local” search on as well). And I like this challenge.

    Since we’ll be living on a coffee/mac nut farm in Hawaii this winter, it should be quite easy to buy all our holiday gifts right off the farm where we’ll be working. That’s pretty darn local.

    And then ship them all to MN, of course.

    • Hi Victoria, I don’t mean to demonize any particular state. Both Best Buy and Target are headquartered in Minnesota.

      Where in Hawaii are you? I spent some time in Kona before moving to Oregon.

  2. (Turn on old, gray haired, gravelly voice) When I was a kid in Springfield, Oregon, buying local was about all that was available. Catalog mail order was the closest thing to not buying locally. Now we have the national chain big box stores and the internet (which is nothing more than electronic catalog mail order). I just did a major portion of my Christmas shopping at Amazon thanks to relatives creating Amazon Wish Lists. I want to shop local, but when they don’t have what I need I go online.

  3. I’m trying much harder this year to buy my Christmas gifts locally. The problem is that my nearest town, like yours is become, is very touristy. But not vacation tourists, more like wealthy day-trippers who like the old architecture of our quaint town. It is gorgeous (one of the reasons I wanted to live nearby) but as a result, most of the shops are over-priced boutiques catering for this crowd. So I might go a little further afield, but still shop at independents.

  4. FlamingAtheist says

    First – my work has released the shackles of ‘porn site’ for your website on our nanny so I can read it at work again. Second – lots of great stores now in A-town. We’ll probably make a trip out there and do some shopping, I know that is counter productive to drive in from Portland but aside from visiting the in-laws I love Purple Cow and Cargo and the other little shops around there.

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