‘Tis the season… to buy local! My top 3 reasons to shop Lansing and great holiday gift ideas!

As we all prepare for the holidays and “Black Friday” just around the corner, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the greatest power we all possess as individuals, and society as a whole- consumer purchasing power!

Purchasing power is huge.

Buying items, for oneself, or for others as we spread the joy of the holidays and search out that perfect gift to bring a smile to a loved one’s face, is more than just dropping a few bucks here or there. It is an investment and a show of support for the type of economy we want to thrive. Where we decide to spend our money is one of the most significant ways we can build up an economy and create the type of society we want to live in.

For example, buying local can mean a lot of things for Lansing, such as:

1.) Reducing the economic impact on our Mother Earth. By purchasing from local businesses, we get rid of the need to transport items around the world to get into our hands. Even if you are picking up an item from your “local” big business, such as Walmart, it has had to travel across the world to get into that store. Not to mention, big businesses are a main factor in pollution, loss of habitat, and sprawl.

2.) Buying local helps to keep our community unique. One of the best things about Lansing is our assortment of absolutely wonderful local boutiques, bakeries and restaurants. I know that when I entertain out of town friends and family, the first thing I do is take them to The Soup Spoon Cafe and other local diners. If we are not providing these types of amazing businesses the income they need to sustain, we will lose them, and our beloved city will be overun with generic strip malls.

3.) Putting our money into the local economy helps us fight corporate greed and

Image from "The Story of Stuff"

media ownership of our beliefs, values and persepctives. Now, this argument could be an entire post within itself, but let’s take a minute to discuss this. We live in a society where advertising and media are bombarding us with unrealistic images and goals (think standards of beauty and violence for starters…) and working to make us constantly feel inadequete so that we buy more stuff. This constant desire to need more things is exemplified nicely in this 20 minute animated film called “The Story of Stuff” (which I strongly urge you all to take the time to watch!) but while it makes us worse off in terms of lack of personal capitol and polluted environment, it makes big corporations better off. They can then afford to buy more land, build more generic stores, and ship in more products made overseas where they pay employees less than a living wage, then overcharge us, so that they can keep the profit and hence, the rich fat cats get richer.

While I am well aware that these arguments seem simplified, and we could delve much futher into each of them, these three points are my basis for encouraging all of you to buy local for the holidays!

And in order to not just “talk the talk”, but “walk the walk” as well, I have decided to purchase the majority of my holiday gifts for friends and family this year from local Lansing businesses and etsy artists. Plus! I am going to share a few local gift ideas from Lansing businesses with the hope that you too, will share some local gift ideas. This way, we can get great ideas from one another of creative and unique ways to find the perfect gift this holiday season, yet do so while fighting the corporate powers and supporting our friends and their businesses here in the city!

Some great stocking stuffer and gift ideas:

1.) Gift cards! Gift cards from our local restaurants and coffee shops can make a perfect stocking stuffer. I suggest purchasing a to-go coffee mug from a local coffee shop, such as Deckers or Gone Wired Cafe, and sticking a gift card to that same establishment in the mug with a bow!

2.) Cravings Popcorn and individual sodas! Who would not love to pull out a package of delicious popcorn and a soda to go along with it? This can make for a great holiday time treat. Try packaging this with a dvd or a gift card to Video to Go, located in Frandor, for a “Night In Gift Basket” to encourage time spent with loved ones on a cold night.

3.) Michigan made salsas, pancake mixes, chocolate covered cherries and wine from Michigania!

4.) Bath and Body products from the lovely, organic, local shop Soulful Earth Herbals! I know I have the Earth Butter on the top of my wish list!

5.) Gift your loved ones books from Everybody Reads! I can not get enough of this wonderful local book shop and happen to think that a book is one of the best gifts you can give. Whether it is one of your favorites to share, or that new release you know your loved one has been waiting to get their hands on, encourage someone to get lost in a great book and they will forever be thankful. Think about combining a great read with a cute robe or pjs from one of the local boutiques around town or some bubble bath and tea!

6.) Wine and Cheese basket! Stop by the City Market and stock up on some of the amazing breads, cheeses and locally made wines to create a classy gift basket. I made one last year and it was a huge hit! (Right, Dad?!)

7.) For the fashion-forward people in your life, swing into Grace Boutique or October Moon! These boutiques, along with Katalyst and many others, offer some great handbags, clothing, accessories and decor.

8.) Take someone out for a night on the town! Plan a night out to visit a great, local

A lovely, holiday evening spent at the DIA a few years back!

restaurant or bring someone to an art gallery or museum. Some of my favorite gifts have been “experiences”, such as a trip to wander through the beautiful exhibits at the  DIA and

go ice skating at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit, or catch a show at the Wharton Center on the campus of MSU!

What are some other great, local, gift ideas, Lansing?! Do you have any other reasons you will choose to buy local this holiday season? Please share with me in the comments section!

Happy Holidays, all!