Friday, December 5, 2008

More Shopping

Why do we keep getting bad advice from the local newspaper? First they all suggested that we buy houses, no matter what the cost. Now we're supposed to buy small, useless trinkets made by local artisans and sold in yuppie replacements for the Gifte Shoppe. Take, for example, this piece from the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Now, this 'buying local for the holidays' credo may mean that when I buy, I buy small. I am well aware that hand-crafted items and those sold in boutiques may cost more, sometimes alarmingly so. There's a premium because artists aren't buying raw materials or producing in bulk; for the stores, there are no efficiencies of scale to help drive down the unit price. That's why a hand-sewn wallet ends up costing the same as a larger, factory-made purse from a department store, a fact not lost on me as I peer at the wallet wondering, 'Is this gold thread or something? Did she raise the cow and hand-cure the leather?' So maybe instead of the wallet, I buy a key fob."

No, no, no, you don't. It doesn't matter if the key fob is handmade by a local artisan or from Target, if the person who receives it just dumps it in a drawer or sends it off to Goodwill. Don't buy people things they neither need nor want. Not only is that not frugal in the present period, but it just adds to the National Junk Heap. If you really want to purchase something handmade for someone, take her with you, notice what she likes, and then go back and purchase it later. I can almost guarantee that it won't be the key fob.

Our local "alternative" weekly has a "Shop Local" campaign this year. I think it's designed to sell ads. But its biggest problem is that Sacramento has the worst local shopping of any city in the country. Even J, who believes that shopping is a torture inflicted specially on him, was excited by the opening of a new Cost Plus, as that provided better stuff than the local boutiques. I'd be happy to shop local if I could find anything to buy.

No comments: