I like to support local businesses over big box stores, especially during the holiday season, but I’ll admit it — it’s tough to do when you’re on a budget or you have a DIY spirit that won’t allow you to buy something you can make yourself.
I’ve visited locally-owned shops to see what kind of stuff they have, but I usually leave without buying anything. I can appreciate the work that went into a hand knitted scarf or a set of embroidered pillows, but I can’t afford to buy those things for myself or to give as gifts. When I do find something in my price range, like note cards or fridge magnets, the crafty voice in my head asks me why I’d buy it when I could make it.
I figured there had to be a way to support businesses in my community, stay within my budget and still give handmade gifts. The solution? Buy supplies locally.
During the holidays, I make tons of candy to give as gifts, plus lots of other goodies to take to parties. Instead of hitting up the grocery store for all of my ingredients, I can check out local food shops. In my town, there’s a large farmer’s market, a chocolate factory and other stores that sell things like teas and spices that I can use. I’ll pay a little more for key ingredients, but I don’t mind because I can have bragging rights that my truffles were made with local chocolate, or that the appetizer I brought was made with vegetables from a farmer down the road.
Instead of heading over to the chain craft supply store, see if there are small niche shops in your city where you can buy paper stock, beads, stamps, fabrics and other items to use when making cards or gifts. Again, you’ll probably pay more because smaller shops aren’t able to buy large quantities the way chains can, but they’re more likely to have unique items that you aren’t going to find in a big box store. You can buy specialty items locally and hit up the chain for your basics in order to stay within your budget.
As a bonus, when you shop in a locally owned store, you can ask the owners for tips on how to tackle your project.
Thrift stores, secondhand shops and your local Goodwill are great places to find items to repurpose. (Most of Goodwill’s funds go back into the area.) Not only are you supporting your community but you’re also keeping that ugly picture frame from going into a landfill. After a coat of paint, that frame is ready for a family photograph. Your grandma will love it.
If you’re a baker, you can pick up containers for your goodies instead of buying new ones. Look for jars and boxes with tops that can be covered with ribbon or fabric, or decoupaged. If you have non-edible items to give, you can use spray paint to turn a cookie tin into something more decorative.
What ideas do you have for shopping locally while keeping your DIY philosophy and your budget in check?