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Shop at home, unless you cannot

I love it when a major news organization comes up with an idea and promotes it far and wide and guess what? We already are doing it!

Diane Sawyer on ABC News is promoting a “Made in America Christmas” which is a wonderful idea and one that has already been in this column at least twice. (Just to be absolutely straight on this, Ms. Sawyer and I don’t know each other. Neither did we consult one another about promotion techniques. But you knew that, didn’t you?)

I was actually planning to give the Shop at Home chorus another round here this week because I talked to a friend Saturday night who told me what she spent at home on local gift certificates, gift cards, and Peabody Bucks. She got all of her shopping done in downtown Peabody. It is no coincidence, I guess, that she is the one who forwarded an e-mail to me early in November with suggestions about local buying rather than supporting workers in other countries who make much of the merchandise we think we cannot live without. The e-mail was called “Buy American This Christmas” and I hope someone forwarded it to you.

Between “Made in America Christmas” and “Buy American This Christmas” we be getting the message.

Monday evening when Ms. Sawyer was promoting the “Made in America Christmas and its Facebook page,” she asked, “Who’s in?” JoLanna Barnes answered on the Facebook page, “Kansas is in …” Good for you, Jo! I hope we really are.

*****

Having given you the planned “rah-rah, we can do it” speech, I should probably play fair and mention the other side of this issue.

On Friday, I wanted to provide a platter of cookies for the Cookie Walk fundraiser being hosted Saturday by the Peabody Community Quilt Project. I thought I would run downtown and buy an inexpensive holiday platter that no one would have to bother returning after the event. Well, guess what? Yup, no holiday platters of any kind, inexpensive or otherwise.

I heard from one of my six regular readers the same day. She told me rather tersely that she was a bit unhappy because she was trying to shop at home and none of the hometown merchants had what she wanted. I told her that I expected our merchants were at least grateful that she had checked with them first instead of automatically heading out of town.

Another person with children just the age for electronics, technological gadgets, specific clothing, and athletic gear said a few weeks ago that she just couldn’t make the people on her list happy with gift certificates for restaurant meals, haircuts, lawn care, or a donation in their name to a local charity.

Drat! What’s an opinion column writer to do?

I am not sure there is an answer, but here is what I think. We all should try. When you can make local shopping fit, go for it. I also like the idea that we sit down with our families and talk about it; teach our children why it is important to spend our money at home. Ms. Sawyer said that most people will spend about $700 each this Christmas, but if we spent only a small portion of that, about $64, on American made products we would create 200,000 more jobs.

We would be making a small contribution, but it would be a beginning. Everything has a beginning. So I will think outside the box about my gift giving. I will try to be aware and make the effort. I hope you will as well and many thanks to those who already have committed themselves to doing it.

— Susan Marshall

Last modified Dec. 7, 2011

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