“Black Friday” approaches and for most shoppers and retailers this holiday season; the menacing moniker may feel appropriate. Many of us are under or unemployed and holiday shopping is a joyless drudge deeper into debt. For small retail sellers, the expectations are low. One doesn’t see people thronging outside small brick-and-mortar shops, or all jumping en masse onto the smaller ebay or Etsy independent seller’s sites. Do LESS this year.
When people wait to storm the doors of Walmart or Best Buy; they are sidestepping the genuine savings that exist everyday, in their own neighborhoods, or from people just like them online. Charge away from the crowd and you will find the best value for your dollar. By buying from individuals, you will save and benefit the 90% of retailers, who are struggling in this recession.
Think of it this way. I live in Portland, Oregon. I recently wandered through a small local store that sells safety equipment, Sanderson’s Safety Supply. This may seem like a silly place to look for Christmas gifts. I found that if you were to purchase a Men’s Carhart Winter Coat at this store, you would save up to $100; depending on which “super sale,” you were shopping at a large retailer. Like many stores located in the southeast Industrial district, this store is easy to overlook. Andy and Bax, a local military surplus store, is an affordable place to buy camping and outdoor gear. City Liquidators, also local and in SE, has a little bit of everything. For smaller boutique gifts, try any of the following shopping districts: NE Mississippi, SE Hawthorne, SE 28th, NE Alberta and NW 23rd Ave. Zim Zim is my favorite quirky Portland gift shop. It’s easy to miss from the outside, (on the bottom level of one of those cookie cutter condo buildings). Inside is pure fun and chocked and full of unique and local gifts.
The same situation exists online. Reckon you want to purchase a fine piece of jewelry for a loved one. Small sellers on ebay and Etsy are selling your item, brand new & for a fraction of retail. First, weed out the conglomerates, based in China that will pop up early in your search. Look for individual sellers with stellar reputations; you do not want to benefit an already booming economy in China and wait until after Christmas for your poor-quality purchase. People commonly purchase items that are the wrong size, color or change their minds etc. and sell their mistakes on ebay. Retailers sell luxury items on ebay for incredibly reasonable prices – no catch. Antique treasures are presently at all-time low prices. Find great vintage buys, that will only increase in value. The current market dictates the price. Make sure that your seller has a good reputation and has fewer than 1,000 products listed. This means, you’ll get great service and a personal touch. Don’t be fooled by the allure of “free shipping.” This may be more expensive, as sellers must compensate for the price of shipping, in the product price. Use your calculator.
Etsy is great for finding small retailers with customized products. If you want a special, hard to find, vintage item, a handmade item or a custom reproduction, Etsy is your blue chip. Etsy provides an additional feature to gather intelligence, re: items your friends already love. Choose an item from their favorites; and save yourself the guesswork. Pinterest is also a lovely site for finding your buddy’s treasured items online. Choose items from a “board” that are for sale on Etsy, ebay or Amazon: and simply buy them.
Use this acronym: LESS – Local, Easy, Small and Simple.