Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Handmade Spring: Buying Local

This last idea for your handmade spring isn't exactly handmade. It's more about buying local and finding unique gift ideas that encourage business owners in your own community. I've often heard of folks who prefer to give gifts that encourage "experiences" rather than gifts that sit on a shelf. (Although when done right, hopefully your gift would never go unused : )
Several ideas come to mind and the first is obvious to those of you who know where I work. It's a great idea for Mother's Day, Father's Day, anniversaries, and weddings. Find a local bed & breakfast or an inn and treat your mom, dad, or spouse to a fabulous romantic getaway. Almost any area of the country has B&Bs. Some are downtown or in historic districts near attractions, restaurants, and shopping. Others are off the beaten path and encourage you to leave your electronic distractions at home for a true respite in the country. Whichever your style, know that B&Bs have come a long way in the last 20 years. While some don't, the vast majority offer major conveniences like TVs, DVD players, and even Wi-Fi. And I promise you will not have to walk down a hall and share a bathroom with strangers as you make small talk while brushing your teeth. They are not like a European hostel. Many are quite luxurious and offer you plenty of personal space and lots of ammenities to make you feel pampered.
Other great local ideas include restaurant gift certificates (locally owned, not the big box kind if you're wanting to support small businesses, of course). Or tickets to a play or concert. Or even simply buying your gifts from local shops and small boutiques. The husband and I always talk about how we wish more local restaurants and shops would move into some areas of our town, but it has to be one of the hardest ways to earn a living. You don't have the buying power of the big boys, the financial cushion of a nationwide franchise, or a tried and tested business plan to get you started. Locally owned restaurants and shops are the bread and butter of any community, but it's a hard row to hoe so to speak. So if making gifts isn't your cup of tea or you haven't become an Etsy addict yet, go for buying local instead.
So get out there and give your town a little love.

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