Christmas shopping on a budget

Post written by Laureen Blakemore

Anybody who knows me well knows this fact about me: I DO NOT LIKE SHOPPING! And yes I will admit it- I am also VERY IMPATIENT!  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.

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!

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.

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!

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!

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: from a selection of books and coloring books in Mish Mish to all of your Hokie needs in High Peak Sportswear, Tech Bookstore, Campus Emporium or Bookholders: from beautiful works of arts and crafts in Matrix Gallery or Burnt Creative 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!
Happy Shopping!

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310 Rosemont
208 N. Main St.
A boutique for men and ladies!
Alligator Alley
401 S. Main St.
Men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, featuring Lacoste, Barbour, Berle, Vineyard Vines, Sperry, Lilly Pulitzer, and Eliza B. See ya later, Alligator!
Beaux Arts Galleria
105 E. Roanoke St.
Mid-20th Century home furnishings, vintage lighting products and museum-quality home decorations from around the world.
Bike Barn
424 N. Main St.
Bike Barn offers bicycle sales and service in the New River Valley. Bike Barn is a drop off point for tubes, tires and metal bike parts for recycling!
Blacksburg Pipe & Tobacco
408 N.Main St
Our mission is to provide our customers with an enjoyable experience and the finest tobaccos available. We carry some of the finest cigars in the world.
125 N. Main St.
540-808-4481 buys/sells used college/general books & new apparel.
Burnt Creative Boutique
320 N.Main St
Specializing in regional handcrafts, fair trade goods, and carefully selected vintage finds.
Campus Emporium
207 N. Main St.
YOUR ONE STOP HOKIE SHOP for gifts, clothing and merchandise
Capone’s Fine Jewelry
101 N. Main St.
Custom designs which incorporate only the highest quality gems, stones and metals.
Clothes Rack
105 N. Main St.
A wide selection of college apartment essential tapestries, handicrafts and eco-conscious clothing reminiscent of the 60’s.
Eats Natural Foods
708A N. Main St.
Blacksburg’s premier natural foods store offering a wide selection of organic, natural and gourmet foods; wine and beer brewing supplies, supplements, and body care products.
Eucalyptus Massage Therapy
201 S. Main St.
540-552- CALM
We look forward to working with you, and encourage you to start getting healthier with massage therapy! Also selling jewelry and artworks
Fringe Benefit
117 N. Main St.
Women’s Fashion, gifts and jewelry with Ten Thousand Villages located inside!
Gourmet Pantry
401 S. Main St.
Everything kitchen and more! Sign up now for Cooking Classes- visit the website for details.
Greenhouse Boardshop
203 College Ave.
Professionally serving the needs of people who ride skateboards and snowboards.
Heavener Hardware & Lumber
801 Kabrich St.
Lumber, rentals and so much more for those projects around the home and garden.
Heirloom Originals
609 North Main Street
Antiques,gifts and originals on North Main. Stop in and see us!
High Peak Sportswear
209 College Ave.
Your best source for t-shirts, golf shirts, hats, and all types of imprinted apparel and gift items!
John’s Camera Corner & Gentry Studio
213 Draper Rd.
Views of Historical Blacksburg on display and for sale. Buy Blacksburg postcards and all of your camera needs in the heart of the downtown.
Kent Jewelers
210 S. Main St.
Your diamond source
LaLac Boutique
208 A North Main St.,
An accessories boutique that offers a variety of fashion forward jewelry, scarves, hats, purses, sunglasses, stockings, belts and more. It is our mission to bring our customers the the latest trends in a friendly, comfortable environment
Mad Dog
109 N. Main St.
Mad Dog offers clothing, accessories, and home goods for all styles.
Matrix Gallery
115 N. Main St.
Quality handmade American crafts….beautiful, functional & fun!
Mish Mish
125 N. Main St.
Providing the Best in Supplies to Those Who Create Since 1970.
Nice Dreams
115-B North Main St
Gifts, novelties and tobacco
polished by claire v.
101 South Main St
We offer highly indulgent manicures, pedicures, and spa services at a fabulous price, in a memorable setting! Also selling purses and Bare Minerals products.
Tech Bookstore
118 S. Main St.
Tech Bookstore is your place for Virginia Tech textbooks, gear and supplies. Buy or sell used and new textbooks, find official Virginia Tech gear, and purchase software and gifts.
Wireless Zone
304 N. Main St.
Your Local Verizon Wireless Premium Retailer in Downtown Blacksburg since 2002. Also selling XM Radio.

3 thoughts on “Christmas shopping on a budget

  1. jbennettnyc

    I used to loathe shopping but in recent years have learned to tolerate it the way people tolerate dental procedures (and sometimes I even enjoy it). I did do 90% of gift shopping this year downtown (the other 10% was at small stores elsewhere). This is a great town.

  2. hollycromerphoto

    Next year I’m going to try your idea of purchasing $20 worth of gifts for each person from downtown shops! I did pick up a few gifts from Burnt Creative this year.

  3. Devawn

    Matrix Gallery had exactly what I wanted before I even knew it. Our local merchants make shopping an easier, community experience & it just feels better, too. Let the money make ripples in our own pond!

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