Sun Editorial: Shop local this holiday season

Shop local, and give from the heart

The season of giving has slowly but surely rebranded itself as the season of gift giving.

All December long, folks rush from work to outlets and big-box stores to find presents for loved ones. After waiting in traffic to arrive and fighting through crowded stores to find that perfect gift, it can leave consumers stressed and wishing for a better way to shop. This may lead to online shopping which, while convenient, can be impersonal and take the fun out of the experience.

In lieu of those options, take the road less traveled this holiday season. Shop local.

Throughout South Jersey, there are a litany of mom-and-pop shops to support. With bustling downtown districts, vibrant Main Streets and specialty stores sprinkled about, it is easy to check off your gift-giving list – and even check it twice! Take advantage of free holiday parking, grab a Peppermint Mocha at a favorite local coffee joint, and embark on a shopping sojourn while putting your dollars back into the local economy.

Who wouldn’t appreciate a free meal from that popular Italian restaurant downtown? Easy – a gift card gets the job done. What about a seasonal bouquet from your town’s florist? Everyone needs a centerpiece for their holiday party.  A one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry? Specialty stationery? A new collar for Fido? Check, check and check again.

Are you more interested in gifting experiences over objects? You can shop local for that, too. Tickets for a local theater company, passes to a museum, culinary classes, music lessons – the list goes on and on.

Gifting experiences are a way to make memories with loved ones, and the suggestions above hardly scratch the surface of ways to do so. Throughout South Jersey, there are plenty of holiday memories to be made. Check out a professional light display, visit your local school’s winter concert or just drive around taking in the holiday lights. Host an ugly sweater party or bake homemade cookies for a cookie exchange. (Not a baker? Not a problem. Snag your cookies at a favorite local bakery instead!)

It’s the season of gift giving, after all, and shopping local doesn’t only support your neighbors, but also will give you the thoughtful gifts your friends and family will remember for years to come! Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali said it best: “True giving happens when we give from our heart.” Keep that in mind this holiday season. Shop local, and give from the heart.