I had to pick up some items that I can only get at Whole Foods yesterday. I walked in the door and was met by a couple of shopping carts filled with food and leaflets being handed out by folks. I took a leaflet and read. It was a request for donations for a local food bank. As I cruised through the store (which I try and do efficiently) I noticed the signs pointing to preferred items for the food bank and picked up a ginormous vat of peanut butter (organic, dontcha know) and a couple boxes of Macaroni and Cheese. After checking out I dropped the items in the shopping cart in the front and got a round of hearty and heart-felt thanks from the people manning said carts. I walked out of the store feeling better about myself than I had in a while. It was quite remarkable how that little gesture could create such a feeling of satisfaction and dare I say it, real joy.
Don’t get me wrong, I am neither altruist nor misanthrope. I have never volunteered at a food bank on a holiday but I don’t snarl at bell ringers either. I have been struggling for the past number of years about exactly what Christmas means to me. Being in retail is a challenge. In case you are unaware, most stores of our sort make all their money in this six-week period. So it is good business to encourage shopping. I sincerely believe that cookbooks make great gifts. They give over and over every time they are used by the recipient, which reminds them of who gave them the gift. Every recipe cooked from the book is an individual gift as well. Win win all around.
Most of my holiday gifts have been home-made for the past decade or so. Either knitted items, home-made preserves or piles of sweets. My freezer currently holds seven different cookie doughs just waiting to be baked and shipped. I get the giving part of this holiday. I like that part, especially since I realized that giving makes me happy, regardless of whether the recipient is appreciative or not. That might not sound right, I think about what I give people, but it is something I make instead of some item reflexively bought. Being in the presence of so many cookbooks all year round means much inspiration for my giving. Realizing that the planning and executing and giving of my gifts is my holiday cheer has made the whole season less stressful and more enjoyable for me.
Tomorrow is the East End Shops Holiday Stroll, and we are happy to be participating again. This will be a good weekend for shopping in your neighborhood. Click through on the link to see all the shops where you can spread some holiday cheer this year.
Amazon has launched a one day campaign tomorrow to encourage people to not shop locally, ironically on this same day as the local celebration. Perhaps it is less than jolly for us to include this information in our communications, but this campaign is particularly predatory and we feel strongly that you are aware of the challenges of being a small business in this day. This is why it is so important for us all to shop locally as much as possible. Whether you shop with us this holiday season or any of the other fabulous locally-owned stores in the Portland area, remember that your dollars stay here and support your community when you shop here. Part of the money you spend here goes right back into the tax base for your roads and schools and other services. Purchases from large internet-based businesses and box stores go into pockets in other places far away and do no good for anyone but them. Shop the Holiday Stroll. Or Picnic. Or Merry Madness.
OK, I’m getting down off my soap box. An update to our raffle prizes for the Stroll. We will be offering two prizes. A grouping of five of the Global History books: Caviar; Lobster; Ice Cream; Sandwich and Soup. The other prize will be a copy of Heston Blumenthal at Home. We hope to see your smiling faces. There will be cookies and cider and other goodies. So stop in and say hi.