Christmas shopping on a budget revisited

13 Dec
Post written by Laureen Blakemore
Revisted 11/27/13
Last year I confessed to you a startling fact: I DO NOT LIKE SHOPPING! and I am VERY IMPATIENT!  Hard to believe, I know, but it remains true.  And though I actually am mellowing to the potential joy of shopping I still foresee a fair amount of retail therapy in my future before I can truly embrace the joy!
christmas-shopping
And so, once again, I believe it remains relevant to share with you my very slightly revised post about Christmas Shopping on a Budget.
I used to find Christmas  shopping to be a pain in the……. well you know what. Standing in line in crowded shops combined with the pressure to find exactly the right gift for each person on my list was not only frustrating to me, but was actually rather annoying.  Over the years Christmas shopping became an  exercise in frantically grabbing whatever I could find, as fast as I could find it and getting out of the door and back home as quickly as was humanly possible. Not much thought went into anyone’s gift. Friends or family members, who were unfortunate enough to come shopping with me, were usually left re-evaluating our relationship as they watched me turn into an impatient, obnoxious lunatic as I desperately tried to navigate my way through crowds and badly laid out aisles to find my way to the nearest cashier or doorway.
Candle sticks, purses,coasters and more under $20 available in Ten Thousand Villages in Fringe Benefit

Candle sticks, purses,coasters and more under $20 available in Ten Thousand Villages in Fringe Benefit

And now…….well I shop downtown, right here in Blacksburg.While I would certainly not pretend  that I suddenly find shopping to be my most favorite activity in the whole wide world ever, I have found that I can tolerate it a lot better and sometimes I actually even enjoy myself!
I hear a lot of people saying that it is too expensive to shop locally so today I set myself a challenge- to find out if it was possible to shop downtown for Christmas gifts that cost less than $20 each. Turned out to be a bigger challenge than I expected because there was just so much available to choose from. In many instances I found delightful gifts which cost less than $10 so now I am spoiled for choice! Shopping for the holidays is made even easier by our downtown merchants who offer a whole variety of special shopping events throughout late November and December leading up to the big day. Starting with Small Business Saturday on November 30, the merchants offer late night shopping hours, special sales, Sunday hours, and themed night such as Ladies Night (Dec 12) and Gents Night (Dec 19). These themed nights feature  free gift wrapping, Wish Lists,  personal shopping assistance, special discounts, refreshments and more. Yes- they even give us refreshments while we shop!
Reusable water bottle available at The Lyric Theatre

Reusable water bottle available at The Lyric Theatre

So what brought about this change of heart in my shopping attitude I hear you asking?  Well really it’s probably down to 5 simple reasons and I  want to share those with you.
1) I now know our downtown store owners, and they know me. They are used to my “shopping phobia” and are quick to offer shopping advice if needed and equally quick to know when I just want to be left alone! I have never had to waste my time searching for a sales assistant to tell me the price of an item, or to find out if they have the size I need in stock. Downtown the sales assistants, or in many cases, the owners, are on hand almost immediately if a customer has a question. And there is certainly something to be said for shopping in the places where “everybody knows your name” (to quote from one of my favorite old shows “Cheers”)!
2)  Every time I go and shop downtown I can absolutely guarantee that I will bump into somebody I know in at least one store. So now in addition to purchasing items I can catch up with friends and acquaintances, swap ideas about gifts for you know who, whom they just happen to know too! Suddenly shopping is a much less daunting task, it’s a social experience and I truly do love to be sociable! Often the shopping trip becomes much more than that- how fun it is to catch up with others and maybe move on from the store to one of the great restaurants or to The Lyric to catch a movie, or on a sunny day to hang out together at Market Square Park.

Delicious locally made chocolates, mugs, puzzles,Seeds of Happiness and more available in Uncommonly Gifted for less than $20

Delicious locally made chocolates, mugs, puzzles,Seeds of Happiness and more available in Uncommonly Gifted for less than $20

3) Our downtown stores have more one-of-a-kind gifts, unique and unusual pieces as opposed to the mass-produced items that are found elsewhere. Our stores offer a more low-pressure shopping experience and so many different options, so I am able to spend more time finding gifts that really suit members of  my family and my friends.
4) In our downtown stores the staff  are more familiar with their merchandise, and offer personalized assistance  in a low stress environment. And if they do not carry something I am looking for they let me know where I can find it elsewhere!
All your Hokie gift needs under $20 available in  Tech Bookstore, High Peak Sportswear and Bookholders

All your Hokie gift needs under $20 available in Tech Bookstore, High Peak Sportswear and Bookholders

5) Smaller stores = shorter lines= less waiting time. Enough said!
We all know by now, I hope, that supporting local business is beneficial to the local economy as well. According to a Nov. 22, 2011, Forbes article by Deborah Sweeney, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 gets returned to the community, either in employee paychecks, or through taxes. An Oct. 21, 2011, U.S. News article by Rachel Koning Beals corroborates this claim, adding that, in comparison, one Chicago-based study found that only $43 of every $100 spent at chain stores remains in the local economy. Sweeney describes local businesses as “the backbone of the community”. When you spend your money locally, you are supporting the people who live next door, the people who know your name!
Candles, tapestries, incense and more under $20 available in Nice Dreams

Candles, tapestries, incense and more under $20 available in Nice Dreams

And so with all of this in mind back to my challenge- Christmas shopping on a budget downtown. I found so very many items for $20 or less that I finally stopped looking. I have provided some pictures and ideas here for you as well as a list of most of  our downtown stores. I encourage you to take this challenge and come down and see how much is available- from $3 stocking stuffers in The Clothes Rack to $10 gloves in Fringe Benefit or Disappearing Tardis Mugs in Uncommonly Gifted: from a selection of art projects and coloring books in Mish Mish to all of your Hokie needs in High Peak Sportswear, Tech Bookstore,  or Bookholders: from beautiful works of arts and crafts in Matrix Gallery, The Gallery Store or Eucalyptus Massage Studio to cell phone accessories in Wireless Zone: from cool Kitchen accessories in Gourmet Pantry to all your gardening needs in Heavener Hardware. So many great gifts under $20 each, and in many cases, under $10 available in downtown Blacksburg! And if you are still not sure what would be the absolute best gift for your teacher/ boss/wife/friend/co-worker you can always get Downtown Gift Certificates  sold in $5 or $20 denominations at the National Bank of Blacksburg on Roanoke Street. They can be redeemed in more than 60 downtown businesses allowing the recipient to choose exactly where they want to spend their $$’s!
So come on downtown and take the challenge- get your Christmas gifts for $20 or less, you’ll be surprised how much fun you’ll have during your shopping local experience!
Gifts of art under $20 available in Matrix Gallery

Gifts of art under $20 available in Matrix Gallery

310 Rosemont
208 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-961-5326
Alligator Alley
401 S. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552-4287
Beliveau Estate Winery
104 W. Roanoke St
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-961-0505
Boo Boo bunnies and other gifts created by local artisans available at The Gallery Store for under $20

Boo Boo bunnies and other gifts created by local artisans available at The Gallery Store for under $20

Bike Barn
424 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-443-3323
Blacksburg Pipe & Tobacco
408 N.Main St
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-951-8457
Bookholders.com
125 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-808-4481

Socks, soaps, gloves, glasses, jewelry and more under $20 available in Fringe Benefit

Socks, soaps, gloves, glasses, jewelry and more under $20 available in Fringe Benefit

Capone’s Fine Jewelry
101 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-953-1000

Clothes Rack
105 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552-8147

Eats Natural Foods
708A N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552-2279

Eucalyptus Massage Therapy
201 S. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552- CALM

Arts, crafts, books, toys and more under $20 available in Mish Mish

Arts, crafts, books, toys and more under $20 available in Mish Mish

Friends of the Farmers Market
P.O. Box 568
Blacksburg, VA 24063
540-239-8290

Fringe Benefit
117 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-951-9777

Gourmet Pantry
401 S. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-951-1995

Greenhouse Boardshop
203 College Ave.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552-3872

Kitchen accessories, gourmet foods, fun kitchen products and more under $20 at Gourmet Pantry.

Kitchen accessories, gourmet foods, fun kitchen products and more under $20 at Gourmet Pantry.

Heavener Hardware & Lumber
801 Kabrich St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552-1221

Heirloom Originals
609 North Main Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060
552-9241

High Peak Sportswear
209 College Ave.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-953-1293

Huge variety of gardening gloves and other great gifts for the home and garden lovers in your life. Available at Heavener Hardware.

Huge variety of gardening gloves and other great gifts for the home and garden lovers in your life. Available at Heavener Hardware.

John’s Camera Corner & Gentry Studio
213 Draper Rd.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552-2319

Kent Jewelers
210 S. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552-3241

Mad Dog
109 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-961-4038

Matrix Gallery
115 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-951-3566

Fancy frames,soaps,ducks and more under $20 available at Mad Dog

Fancy frames,soaps,ducks and more under $20 available at Mad Dog

Mish Mish
125 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552-1020

Nice Dreams
115-B North Main St
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552-4733

polished by claire v.
101 South Main St
Blacksburg, VA 24060
1540-342-5895

Sandra Eileen Designs
106 Faculty Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Stocking stuffers, toys, hats and more under $20 available at The Clothes Rack

Stocking stuffers, toys, hats and more under $20 available at The Clothes Rack

Tech Bookstore
118 S. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-552-6444

The Artful Lawyer Gallery Store
320 N.Main St
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540- 443.9350 ext. 707

Uncommonly Gifted
208 S. Main St
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-951-1818

Unique gifts under $20 in Heirloom Originals

Unique gifts under $20 in Heirloom Originals

Vintage Touch
208A North Main Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-951-1901

Wireless Zone
304 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
540-961-4200

And now I look like this when I think about Christmas Shopping.....

And now I look like this when I think about Christmas Shopping…..

I used to look like this when I thought about Christmas Shopping.....

I used to look like this when I thought about Christmas Shopping…..

Okay, not really. Just checking to see who read to the end! Share your favorite downtown place to shop for the holidays here and be entered in a draw to win Downtown Gift Certificates. Draw will take place on December 23.

7 Responses to “Christmas shopping on a budget revisited”

  1. B'easy Thompson December 19, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    Loved shopping at Uncommonly Gifted today and always love Mish Mish!

  2. Lindsay December 19, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    I love going to the Farmers Market on Saturdays and also like to shop at Gourmet Pantry.

    • Laureen Blakemore December 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

      Congratulations Lindsay- your comment won the $25 Downtown Gift Certificate in our random drawer today! Thanks for shopping local!

  3. Melissa December 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    I love visiting the lyric and wandering through EATS and all the tasty things they have to eat!

  4. Jill December 19, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    Love Gourmet Pantry and polished!

  5. Melody December 19, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    It’s Mish Mish for me. The kids ALWAYS ask for art supplies, and Mish Mish is the best.

  6. Amanda December 21, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Gourmet Pantry!

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