Shop local during the holidays

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, November 17, 2022

JOANIE JASPER

Middlesboro Main Street

What’s up, Middlesboro?

It has truly been a struggle of a week. It has been so difficult watching families from our town suffer with major medical issues and even death. Social media has been covered in pink, hearts, and comments of lots of prayers. Again, it has been truly amazing to watch a community to come together to care for their own. The amount of generosity and compassion that has been shown has been astounding. I can honestly say that I have never lived anywhere that I have witnessed anything like this. It is just another reason why I feel so blessed to call Middlesboro home.

With all that has been happening it has seemed to mask the reality that Thanksgiving is next week. Thanksgiving is a time that we enjoy delicious food, time spent with family, and shopping. Yes, I did say shopping. Of course, this year the thrill of Black Friday shopping might not be as exciting as years past, but people will be crowded in stores looking for gifts and great deals. I hope that people will keep in mind that Big Box stores are able to give great deals, because they are able to purchase items in bulk, but our locally owned shops don’t have that buying power. We (I include myself) look at ads and search online to find those great deals, add to cart and smile as we purchase because we are thrilled with the savings. We never realize that with each buggy full of Big Box deals and online two-day shipping deals we are causing small local merchants to go out of business. Now, I know that one holiday season does not cause that, but it hasn’t been happening for just one holiday season. We all say that Covid was what caused us to shop online, but the truth is it was happening long before that.

Our shopping styles have been changing for years. We like having lots of different choices with just a tap on the keyboard. We like that we can shop at all times of the day. Many of us like that we can shop from home in our PJs. My rant can go on and on about how we have created shopping habits that are endangering the locally owned shops.

I have heard and read social media comments that we want downtowns like we used to have, but do you really? If that truly was what you wanted you would be coming downtown on weekends and shopping in the shops. You would not let the fact that you cannot get a parking spot right in front of the store stop you from coming downtown to shop. You would be coming down to eat and then strolling down the street to check what is new in the shops. You would be excited to come to ribbon cuttings and grand openings of new shops that have opened. You would have the local shop as your go-to source for the perfect gift, instead of Etsy or Amazon. You would be getting to know the local shop owners and allowing them to provide you with great personal customer service. We are the reason we will never have bustling downtowns like we used to. We are the reason that downtowns will eventually become empty buildings, that create space for unsavory activities. We are the reason.

Now some of you might be saying right now, we don’t want our downtowns to go away. What can we do to save our downtowns?

It is really very easy, you come downtown and shop. The more we support our locally owned shops downtown the more our downtowns will grow. You are going to purchase clothes, shoes, cards, medicine, gifts, candy and more somewhere. So why not purchase those items at a downtown business? The burden is on us to create the downtown that we want to have. The more we make shop local choices the more new locally owned businesses will open for us to enjoy.

So as you are creating your Holiday shopping lists, make sure that you come downtown and shop. You will really be surprised what great things you will find. Another thing that Middlesboro Main Street will be offering to downtown shoppers starting in December is the shop local card. This card will give you 10% off purchases at participating downtown shops. You will be able to get these cards starting in December at participating businesses and at the Arthur Museum (Middlesboro Main Street office). This card helps you save money, and it helps our local businesses stay open.

Middlesboro Main Street also has another great opportunity to come shop downtown and that is our Holiday Shopping Night on Thursday, Dec. 15 from 6-8 p.m. We have several downtown businesses that will be open for holiday shopping. Each store will have their own holiday specials for that one night. You can find a list of participating shops on the Middlesboro Main Street website — downtownmiddlesboro.com.

As I close for this week, I want to wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving. I also want to encourage you to cherish each moment you have with your family and friends and share kindness to everyone you see.