As a Christmas shopper, I have my limits. I don’t start before Halloween, I (usually) finish before Christmas Eve, and I won’t stand in line in the 3 a.m. dark and cold waiting for a store to open—especially not after spending approximately 9.7 hours the previous day preparing, eating, and cleaning up after a Thanksgiving dinner. I am occasionally tempted by the 14 pounds of sale fliers in my Thursday paper, but I try not to leave the house on Black Friday unless I’m in search of a peppermint mocha latte.
But I made an exception this year for Plaid Friday, BeLocalNC’s celebration of the “diversity and creativity of local independent businesses.” I packed my little plaid purse and set out for the Plaid Friday Marketplace at the Art Lab space on Linden Street. There, local vendors had their wares for sale, including Sweets Cosmetics, MouCo cheeses, Loco Bueno green chile, and the cool Akinz line of Buy Local tees and bags.
Thanks to my strategically located parking spot on Linden Street, I discovered The Bizarre Bazaar, a new store selling used music, movies, books, and “other printed items.” Having lived through the decline of record albums, I’d been somewhat skeptical about the supposed resurgence of vinyl. But after seeing the young hipsters flipping through the stacks of Bizarre’s LPs, I’m convinced. Records are back, they’re cool, and maybe, just maybe, my husband had a reason for holding onto his turntable all these years.
Then, to prove to myself that the Big Mart stores aren’t the only places where bargains can be found, I visited two locally-owned, occasional-shopping franchises: Real Deals and Lillians of Fort Collins. As the description implies, these stores are not open all-day-every-day. Real Deals has regular hours every Thursday and Sunday. Lillians is open the first Thursday-Sunday of every month, plus bonus days. The occasional-shopping model requires more planning, but the experience of browsing through quaint and funky stores that do not require a GPS to find the exit more than makes up for the minor inconvenience.
Last year, I didn’t kick off my local shopping until Small Business Saturday, but I’m glad I got out a day earlier this year. If you missed Plaid Friday, don’t worry. Plaid Week continues until December 4. After that, the stores will still be open, and many excellent local vendors can also be found at the Opera Galleria and Foothills Mall winter farmer’s markets.