8 ways to shop local this holiday season


Shop local. There’s a phrase we hear a lot this time of year, especially as Black Friday approaches. I’ve always equated “shop local” with “get eight hours of sleep” and “eat five servings of fruits and veggies.” Really nice in theory—probably not going to happen.

But this year has shifted my thinking away from the Big Box Store mentality. Maybe 2021 is the time to try and actually shop local. (psst… Holiday Gift Guide 2021 | Green Bay Area Mom) First and foremost, our country is still reeling from the pandemic. Small, local businesses got hit hard; many are still struggling to keep their doors open. Also, as we all know, there are supply chain issues and an employee shortage. Is this really the time we want to be pouring our hard-earned paychecks into the already supersized bank accounts of Amazon, Target, and Walmart?

What happens when you shop local? It breaks down this way. When we make purchases at local (not chain) shops, restaurants, and other businesses, the proceeds benefit an actual person, rather than the bottom line of a giant conglomerate. That means, she or he will be able to pay for kids’ braces. They can put gas in their vehicles, pay their employees, and fork over rent on their storefronts. Further, when we shop local, there is what’s called the “multiplier effect” where a greater percentage of those funds stays in our area (a proven 48 percent) by means of taxes, wages, and other expenses that the business owner pays vs. only about 13.6 percent of funds staying local when we shop at a retail or restaurant chain. (Source here.) Finally, locally owned businesses such as restaurants are more likely than national chains to support other local entrepreneurs and source locally grown products—just to keep the local love going and growing.

Bigger bang for your buck: There’s a reason that mass-produced toys, clothes, and accessories from China are dirt cheap. The quality oftentimes is dirt poor, and you really aren’t doing the gift recipient any favors. Neither are we helping the planet when we buy from overseas, with all the extra shipping, packaging, and carbon monoxide emissions. When you go into a local boutique, you can touch the fabric and appreciate the craftsmanship—sometimes even hear the story or see the location where your goods are being produced. I know there’s no beating the convenience of online shopping; I probably have two or three open orders myself at this very moment. But if we all make a vow to try and shop local and buy just one or two more Christmas gifts in town this year instead of from Amazon, what kind of an impact could we make? After all, isn’t overshopping and over-stressing the opposite of what the holidays are supposed to be about? (Side note: Here’s Four Ways Moms (Unknowingly) Ruin the Holidays.)

Check your list twice: As we are rethinking when and where to do our Christmas shopping, maybe this is the year we revamp our lists as we try to shop local. How many people do we actually need to buy for, anyway? Is there someone on your list who would rather receive the gift of your time than an ugly Christmas sweater from Target? Some thoughts:

  1. Send local restaurant gift cards to your band of gal pals with a few possible dates to meet for lunch in the new year. Suggestions: Plae Bistro, A’Bravo, Taverne in the Sky, Vintage.
  2. Check out one of the many holiday craft fairs and art markets to support local vendors and artisans. And bring your mom, your aunt, your crafty neighbor!
  3. Stuff stockings with Seroogy’s chocolates or bring a sampler as a hostess gift. (Also works with local wine from Mona Rose, LedgeStone Vineyards, or Captain’s Walk Winery.)
  4. Instead of giving your child’s teacher a Starbucks gift card, why not try Luna, The Exchange, or Black Honey Hashery? (If he/she is a serious Starbucks addict, get a small gift card and put it inside a beautiful handmade mug from SmithMaker Artisan Co.) P.S., shopping Etsy is considered shopping local as well!  School House gift cards are always an amazing option!
  5. But theater tickets to the Fox Cities PAC, the Weidner, or the Meyer Theatre for parents and grandparents this year.
  6. Give your sister a gift card to her favorite salon or for a massage at a local spa. If she is into yoga, pay for a month of classes at her favorite studio. (Better yet, go together!)  Or take a shopping trip together at Apricot Lane Boutique!
  7. Take a group of friends to see a Christmas lights show at the Green Bay Botanical Garden or the festival of trees at the National Railroad Museum.  Need more holiday event ideas?  Check out our 2021 Family Holiday Events Guide.
  8. Take part in Small Business Saturday in De Pere or downtown Green Bay and avoid the crowds at the mall!
  9. You’ll also want to check out our 2021 Holiday Gift Guide FILLED with amazing options for shopping local this year!  

Do you have a favorite local business for holiday shopping? Tell us about it in the comments!


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