At some point last week, I realized that it was about to be the holiday season. Somehow, we’d trudged through one of the most trying periods in modern history, and that celebratory end-of-year blowout of family, festivities and gift giving was nearly upon us. Unfortunately, just because this year is nearly over, as is Donald Trump’s ignominious reign, it doesn’t mean any semblance of normalcy will be returning.
Because of Trump’s callous, moronic and criminally negligent handling of the pandemic, the entire country is seeing the largest spikes in COVID we’ve experienced thus far. People are being advised not to travel to see family and not to have gatherings with people who aren’t already in their COVID bubble. Things are still really, truly, not OK and because of this you should be extra mindful about where you spend your money this season.
It’s no secret that Amazon is a shady company. Among other things, it’s purposefully harmful to small businesses, treats employees poorly, is anti-union, and pays $0 in federal taxes. On top of that, Jeff Bezos is a monumental douchebag. But yes, they are incredibly convenient, I know.
While it would be great if you stopped giving them your money altogether, I know that’s not realistic. But I am asking you not to use them for holiday shopping this year. In fact, I’m hoping you’ll also avoid Target, Walmart or any other major retailer this year as well.
Why? Because this year it is imperative that you spend your money with local and independent shops, retailers, and makers. Whereas companies like Amazon are having record years because of the pandemic, all the funky shops and artisans who make the world a more interesting place have been devastated. You know this. I know you know this. But right now, I’m asking you to do something about it.
Many of the places and creators that you love will not survive if they don’t have a fantastic holiday season. The newest stimulus bill has been caught up in Congress for months because of Snitch McConnell’s intransigence, and the people and places that need that money to survive have been utterly left in the lurch. Shopping on Amazon will only serve to make the richest tool in the world even richer, when he’s already grown his wealth by $50 billion during the pandemic. Let me write that out so you get a better picture: that’s $50,000,000,000!
Last week, when I realized what time the year it was, I posted the following on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: “Do you have an indie business where people can buy cool holiday gifts online? Leave the link to your store in the comments so others can find dope gifts.”
I was floored and inspired to see all the wonderful and creative things people were making and selling. From custom pet portraits to organic beauty products to jewelry to charcuterie boards, hundreds of artists, musicians, craftspeople and other makers shared brilliant creations that were made with love. (If you’re reading this online, you can click the links to my posts above to see all the comments and maybe support those creators).
These are the people who we should be supporting this holiday season. These are our friends and neighbors, our family and our random acquaintances. Hell, they might even be complete strangers, but they need and deserve your hard-earned money WAY more than the shareholders of Amazon or Walmart.
One way you can find out about these indie makers is by posting the same thing I did on my social media feeds and then peep at all the impressive links shared in the comments. Another is to check out online creator markets like Etsy, Uncommon Good or Cratejoy where you can search for things the same way you would on Amazon, yet find independent, handmade versions.
Assuming you feel comfortable doing so and COVID safety measures haven’t become even more restrictive, it’s vital that you support your favorite brick and mortar stores as well. They are in even more perilous predicaments than people who have online shops, since they have a whole lot of rent to contend with, too. Of course, many of them allow you to order online, but if you feel safe, I’m sure they’d like to see your lovely mask-covered face in person.
This is also a fine opportunity to support local restaurants. Instead of cooking your holiday meals, order them from nearby eateries. You’ll be saving yourself hours of work and cleanup, while also supporting the places that make living in a city so great. And if humanly possible, see if you can pick up the food yourself since the delivery services are absolutely rapacious.
Do not shop on Amazon this year. Support people who deserve your money. You’re going to be so glad you did.
Stuart Schuffman is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His column appears every other Thursday. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.