When you think of your town, the people, the culture and the events during the holiday season, what comes to mind? I’m sure it’s a million little things, but I would wager that most of the images are more vibrant, detailed and full of personality than a nebulous air-freighted brown box or big box plastic bag.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m confident that we all love a great deal and shopping online has it place, but when it comes down to it, no discount code, free shipping or subscription model comes close to what a small and local business has to offer. Beyond the inventory they offer year-round, local businesses are the heartbeat of our community. They are the welcoming door offering hot cider or cocoa. They are among the first to break out the Christmas lights. They roll out the carpet for the consumer day after day and make us feel at home for the holiday as they sincerely blare Andy Williams over the speakers.
Many of us have Thanksgiving Day and PostTurkey day traditions, among them football games, deal dashes, cookie decorating, leftovers and sandwich making. I suggest that you adopt another: adding a Saturday stroll through your local town and participate in Small Business Saturday.
Launched by American Express in 2010 to bring exposure to our local businesses, encourage local engagement and investment, this idea has been widely adopted and expanded across the country over the past several years. There is something to be said for patronizing our local brick-and-mortar stores, running into friends, talking to shop owners, rediscovering the alleyways and corner stores. While I don’t have the space to cover every local business in town, I make the following recommendations (You know I have to make a list.)
▪ Start off the day with a purchase of local donuts from Daylight Donuts. From glazed to chocolate, these locals are serving up delights across from the Mercer University football stadium.
▪ Check out the Macon Arts Alliance and its seasonal selection of artisanal crafts. From pottery and jewelry to paintings and sculptures, you won’t leave the place without becoming a member and grabbing at least a hand-crafted Christmas decoration.
▪ Visit dozens of vendors at this weekend’s Open Air Market. Plum Street will be alive with music, face painting, wares of all kinds and an open invitation to participate as a vendor.
▪ Grab a candle, marinade or toy box at Travis Jean’s. A stroll down Cherry Street during the holidays would be incomplete without a drop-in. You are sure to exit with a one-of-a-kind Georgia-inspired gift basket. They are irresistible.
▪ And of course there is the new Falling Star Records. If you’ve been hunting for that elusive LP to complete your collection, look no further than Second Street. They curate a wide selection of albums, accept trades and spin great tunes. If you are lucky, you will strike up a conversation with a real DJ about some obscure track and make a new friend in the process.
▪ Stop by the newly opened, phenomenally landscaped and acoustically designed Society Garden for an adult beverage and buy that lucky person in your life a wine club membership pronto. They’ll love it.
So grab yourself a warm mug of Ovaltine and a notepad and draft your own plan of attach. Say hello to our neighbors and let them know you appreciate their investment in our town. The Christmas parade, the tree lightings, the caroling, the gift drives and the season in general wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t have the local stores spreading the holiday cheer year after year and carrying the charge that the Christmas spirit is disseminated from the local township … outward. Happy holidays!
Christopher Tsavatewa is director of experiential learning at Middle Georgia State University and an overly engaged resident. You can follow him on Facebook and criticize his grammar.