Thanksgiving is now behind us, along with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, but the importance of shopping locally during the holiday season will continue on up until stores close on Dec. 24.
We repeat this message annually as part of our tradition at the holidays because we think it is a vitally important one. For many businesses on Vashon — and beyond — profits from the holiday season help them stay afloat throughout the year. Equally as important, money spent on Vashon tends to stay on Vashon.
For every $100 spent in a local shop, about $67 circulates in that community, according to an American Express study. Shopping off-island or online brings none of those benefits.
Moreover, shopping here at home supports local jobs, is more environmentally friendly than a drive to Seattle or Tacoma and, importantly, is often a good community experience, with friendly shopkeepers who know their merchandise as well as the likelihood of running into friends and neighbors.
Though Vashon’s business district is small, each business here serves a niche, and shoppers can find practical gifts to lavish luxuries and everything in between just by wandering the town in a morning or afternoon. Currently, the chamber of commerce is offering its Shop Vashon Passport event, a contest with prizes possible for shopping at 12 or more local businesses by Dec. 18. This Saturday, Dec. 1, will be the holiday open house, when islanders can drop off coupons clipped from this issue of The Beachcomber to island merchants, with the hope of winning other prizes, all capped off by the tree lighting and Santa’s arrival that night.
The Farmers Market will be indoors at Vashon Center for the Arts, a fine place to buy an array of handcrafted items, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday through Dec. 15, with several artisans selling their wares. In another boon to holiday shopping, The Art Studio Tour will be open the first two weekends in December, with more than 100 artists participating at 38 studios, from one end of the island to the other. It is a true celebration of the island’s creativity.
Vashon-Maury wineries and cideries also present great gift possibilities, with many products available from the businesses as well as from a quick stop at Thriftway.
While many people appreciate receiving the perfect gift wrapped just so, for many others, the adage found on bumper stickers rings true: “The best things in life are not things.”
Experiences make for wonderful gifts: a gift certificate to an island restaurant, an appointment with a massage therapist, or a promised summer kayaking trip in island waters are all excellent ideas that will benefit the person receiving the gift, with ripple effects into the community as a whole.
In the days and weeks ahead, instead of waiting in a ferry line or hiding behind a computer screen, invite a friend along to the market, to the studio tour or town — then choose carefully or on a whim. Either way, when shopping locally, it is money well spent.