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An experiment in Christmas shopping

January 24, 2012 in Opinion


It was November of 2011, and I made a pact with myself to shop local for Christmas. And I did. Every gift I bought—except for one—was purchased in the city of Casper. Nearly all were purchased from Wyoming-owned businesses. It was an experiment, really. I’ve always believed in buying local. But I had never tried to do ALL of my shopping local.

It started out with a rough list. Things I knew family and friends wanted, and I had sort of figured out where in town I might find such things. But it really turned into more of a scavenger hunt, and I say that in a really, really good way.

When you’re looking for a specific gift online, you find it. It’s right there. You choose from several stores by price, pick your shipping option, and it’s at your doorstep before you even forgot you ordered it.

When you wander through a store—especially a locally owned store—you find things you weren’t looking for. Okay, I admit, some of the things I bought, I bought for myself, but hey, who doesn’t need a paddle mixer for their Kitchenaid that has squeegees on it? My point is that you lose a HUGE part of the experience of shopping when you find exactly what you’re looking for and nothing else.

I spent quite a bit of time wandering through stores in downtown Casper. Not because I couldn’t find what I was looking for, but because I liked all the other stuff I was finding. Interesting books that I had never picked up before at Wind City Books. This awesome beer-stein-shaped wine glass at the Floral Rhino. A super fast mini luge sled at R.W. Tauberts. Just to name a few.

I wasn’t LOOKING for any of these things. They really weren’t on the Christmas lists of anyone I was shopping for. Did I find the things that were on those lists, of course. But when it came down to it, those odd gifts—the super fast mini luge and the the beer-stein-shaped wine glass, and the like—were way bigger hits than the gifts that people had actually asked for.

I used to think shopping was a chore. Now I’ve discovered that it can not only be fun, but a great opportunity to meet business owners and friends in your community. And they stock a lot of cool stuff that you won’t find online, because you don’t know that you’re looking for it.

2 responses to An experiment in Christmas shopping

  1. That is awesome. I have a holiday tradition where instead of visiting the large stores in town (or the internet) on black Friday, my friends and family go all around town to all the local shops for the day. We go to every little store we can find, go out to lunch, and spend the day looking at all Casper has to offer. We all have so much fun. I really look forward to it every Thanksgiving.

    Casper has so many little “treasures” in town where you can find cool, unique stuff and usually at a great price. I wasn’t as good as you Russell to do all my shopping locally, but next year, I think I will put myself to the test. Sounds like fun!

  2. This is my recent experience of shopping locally and finding a favorite item that I just knew wasn’t available in town. I went to a downtown women’s clothing store (Fashion Crossroads) to check out their jeans. While there the salesperson was showing me around to other options and mentioned my most recent favorite brand of jeans “Not Your Daughters’ Jeans”. I said, “Did you say you carry Not Your Daughters’ Jeans”? Yes they do, and had been carrying them. My last purchase of my favs was on line from Nordstrom’s. The base price for these jeans is the same as the local store, the only difference is I paid a bunch for shipping. Dumb. A lot of name brand companies set the prices that merchants can sell there products for, the only thing extra you get is paying exorbitant shipping costs. Patagonia is another brand name that sets their price. You can buy that brand right here in Casper at two stores that I know of. If they don’t have your size or color they’ll order it in for you. So the lesson learned here; check out what’s available locally, you’ll probably be surprised, like I was, and find exactly what you wanted.

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