Shop in the Neighborhood or Shop in (Cyber) Space

Shop in the Neighborhood or Shop in (Cyber) Space

For the past few years we have been encouraged to support our local businesses … and this is a wonderful idea for all sorts of resources in the world of Interior Design.  We can hardly walk or drive anywhere and not see closed stores from Restoration Hardware in a local suburb to small specialized accessory/gift boutiques.  Shopping areas from suburban downtowns to strip malls and regional malls have empty windows and “For Rent” signs.

Shopping near home or work makes lots of sense!   Most of what we choose for our homes are items we should see, touch and try out before we buy.  It can be a faucet, a wood blind, a sofa, a quilt or a pillow.  When we get caught up in the madness of Cyber Monday (or what will certainly be Cyber Month-Before-Christmas) it can be easy and seem convenient to shop on line for everything.  You might gain a sales tax break, or lower prices, but there’s a downside as well.  You can’t feel items in a photo and you can’t try them out.  A faucet might not be as easy to turn on or off as you like.  A lamp might not get bright enough for the corner of your living room or a chandelier look big enough (or too big) over your dining table.  Also, chairs and sofas might feel too big, too soft and the fabric might not look like the picture on line or in the catalog.  If you have no time element and want to send things back, hey,  that’s OK, but it will then take twice as long to get whatever it is.

Whether you shop at a chain store or at a neighborhood gem in your area you are supporting local commerce and supporting jobs for your neighbors.  The sales staff, designing help, stock boys and delivery personnel will hopefully return at least some of their earnings to the area.  I’m a big proponent of using professional advice whether it’s a designer, a gallery owner, a knowledgeable salesperson or even an artisan who actually makes what he/she sells.  Is an internet “Chat” the same?

And, what about the wonderful woodworker, watercolor artist, upholsterer or tile dealer in your local downtown?  Their work and their prices could be the best and you'll miss the opportunity to meet them if you don't snoop nearby.

If you are confident that you can make your own decisions and the savings are awesome, cyber purchasing might be just the right thing.  Overstock, Amazon and eBay are overflowing with orders and they are piling on holiday workers to take on the amazing volume of online purchases.  A newscast Sunday did a story about how UPS can’t hire enough seasonal help. Uh oh –that could mean that 2nd day might not work?  (How fast do we really need most things anyway?)

Seriously, do some real investigating before you order big stuff online.  There are quite a few web sites that sell the furniture you can find in stores.  From a designer’s point of view, I don’t know if I would want to make substantial purchases with a company  I don’t have a relationship with.  So many things could go wrong, that it scares me.  Resolving damages, delays and quality-control issues are hard enough with vendors and stores that I know.  But I guess that could be my personal control issue.

The small items like bath and kitchen hardware, small rugs, table accessories can be great online deals and there are a slew of new(er) web sites that specialize in these items (Joss and Main, One King’s Lane, Fab, etc.).  On the other hand, isn’t part of the Holiday Spirit going in and out of shops on a snowy day while negotiating the crowds?  Just sayin’….

Enjoy this month!  Shop and buy local, OK?

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