Wednesday, December 16, 2009
How local is your holiday shopping list? As we all scramble to finish finding gifts for our loved ones, it's easy to go online and click to order from far-away warehouses, but is it the best way to support our communities? Check out Shift Your Shopping, a Cambridge- and Somerville-based initiative that encourages folks to support local economies by shifting 10% of their total purchases this season to businesses, non-profits, and artists in nearby neighborhoods.
From the Shift site: a New Orleans study found that "local retailers have twice the local economic impact in our communities, while consuming a fraction of the land area." That's a pretty big deal! When you support a local business, you help to create and sustain jobs and protect the environment. You also get great, personalized customer service, and a unique purchase out of the deal that will be appreciated by your friends and family.
Some of the businesses that are part of the Shift Your Shopping initiative are ones we frequent for a variety of things:
Grand for well-designed, locally made gifts, like, a-hem, Chroma Lab clocks and furniture.
Cambridge Naturals for natural body and home care products (the only place I've seen Tom's of Maine Bay-Lime scented sensitive care deodorant, which I fully and wholeheartedly endorse).
Greenward for an awesome selection of 100% eco-friendly goods, like locally made Preserve recycled tupperware, of which we have a rather enormous collection.
Veggie Planet for massive, vegetarian, yet delicious enough for meat-eaters pizzas and baked dishes (plus live music!).
Porter Square Books for a good tea-and-a-book sit down during your shopping adventures.
Brattle Theatre, the legendary cinema in Harvard Square that regularly hosts viewings of new, classic, and art-house films and has gift cards. Our favorite Brattle experience was seeing Talking Heads' concert film Stop Making Sense on Alicia's birthday a few years ago, when an audience member dressed as David Byrne in his Big Suit got up on the stage and danced in front of the screen!
Taza Chocolate for locally made, organic choc of all kinds. And they do tours. Yes, you can TOUR A CHOCOLATE FACTORY right in your neighborhood!
Dave's Fresh Pasta for, honestly, some of the most delicious fresh pasta sold by the pound you'll ever eat, not to mention the bread, cheese, olives, sauces, sandwiches, etc. Don't even mess around, just go see Dave.
Christina's for waaay more than 31 flavors of ice cream--Toasted Marshmallow, mmmkay?
Bob Slate Stationer for a huge selection of both new and old timey stationery supplies. Julia Child used to have an account here, says my friend Jen who worked there in high school.
Aboden for a great and ever-changing collection of mid-century inspired furniture and home accessories.
And that's just Cambridge and Somerville! There's much more in Boston, and in your neighborhood, too, I'd imagine. If you do need to shop online, and for some people that's simply the best method, a great way to support local artists is Etsy, where you can search your town for people making things by hand right in your area.
After the holiday shopping is over, consider maintaining your commitment to local businesses by pledging to make the 10% Shift! Where do you shop locally? What gifts have you picked up this year in your neighborhood?