Holiday Shopping

By Andy Mitchell

Still reeling from those three heads of the monster holiday weekend – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday? I, as a small business owner, will share a few of my thoughts in the aftermath.  

It’s no secret; Thanksgiving has become the day we celebrate football, gluttony and midnight shopping. After that all hell breaks loose. Black Friday really begins the night before, when shoppers, stuffed with stuffing, line up outside the big chain stores, staggering in a Tryptophan trance. On Saturday families gather in mom & pop shops in the heart of town, eschewing their daily autopilot which usually lands them on the edge of town – in the Walmart parking lot. Sunday is a day of rest for most of us, who spend much of the day bent at the altar of our giant television screens. Finally, on Monday we drool over our laptops, scrolling Amazon until we’re Walmart-greeter-jacket-blue in the face.

What does all this say about our country, our world today? (Yes, Black Friday has traveled across the pond, in spite of there being no Thanksgiving on the other side of it.) Well, you can make your own conclusions.

Never much of a shopper myself, I can’t imagine waiting in line outside for hours just to shop. But for some it’s become the sporting event of the day, more so than those legendary football contests. In fact, YouTube will attest to a number of tackles at stores-cum-playing fields across the land. Ah, the Pilgrims must be turning in their graves.

Small Business Saturday was just about as crazy as it gets when it comes to downtown shopping. And I’m thankful for that. At Our Town Books no one was tackled; no one/nothing was hurt. (Except for the feelings of a little girl when she was gently scolded by her parents for spilling her hot chocolate.) Everyone was civil. And all were jolly. And, by golly, ain’t that how it oughta be?

Regardless of your religious or secular views on the holidays, it seems to me that good spirits are in order. And I don’t mean eggnog. (Although, I for one, like the stuff, provided it’s plenty stiff.) So let the big boys have Black Friday’s rabid dog-eat-dog shoppers. I’ll take the tame bookworms – along with their friends and loved ones – sauntering pensively about our store. I rather like that kind of shopping. Can you imagine a couple of bespectacled bibliophiles elbowing one another in the poetry section, having a tug-of-war with a Robert Frost collection serving as the rope? Or two women wrapped in afghans duking it out over one of Maeve Binchy’s novels?

In this age of the-bigger-and-the-cheaper-the-better, it’s sure comforting to be in a small shop in a small town, where sanity is the order of the day. And good spirits still prevail.  


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