An Antidote To Shopping Hell

Obligatory whining: Christmas music after Thanksgiving = okay. Christmas music after Halloween = stopitstopitstopit.

Normally, I start Christmas shopping in September. I want it done before the insanity starts. This year, distracted by the lovely you-all and the election, I haven’t done shit, with the result that we’re halfway through November and I’m realizing it’s time to get my ass in gear. But I want to do it this year with a different bent.

<P After the election, I noticed a lot of good conversating going on about economically boycotting red states and corporations that supported BushCo. Buying local, buying secondhand, buying online, buying smart, are always good ideas, especially in an economy that makes me ponder planting a Victory Garden and tying a pig to my back porch rail.

I’ve always loved junk stores. There’s a story I like to tell about the time I met the mayor of my former city at a fancy reception. It was at the swankiest club in town, everybody was all done up, and the mayor complimented my dress. The reason I love to tell it is because I bought that dress for $2 at the Salvation Army and the mayor was wearing Donna Karan. I still wear a $4 coat that’s 10 years old, long after I’ve had to throw out things I bought new. People made durable things in the 40s, the era from whence most of my stuff comes.

I’d like to hear from you guys what your suggestions are for places to go (in real life or virtually, though if you can link a web site, that would be great) that are great local finds in your towns, do good work in the community, are owned by people who support progressive causes, or benefit charity directly. Ideally, I’d like to create a kind of First Draft shopping list, a guide of good stuff, because we could all use alternatives to massive discount stores playing The Twelve Fucking Days of Christmas over and over and over again.

My suggestions:

Coffee: Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters. This stuff is like crack. I’m not entirely sure there isn’t crack actually in it. The “Black Cat” cured my hangover on Nov. 3 with one sip.

Tea: Todd & Holland Tea Shop. A lovely little place tucked away not far from my house, their “Ruby Tuesday” blend is what I gave my grandmother when she was ill, and it perked her right up.

Quality junk store: PK Antiques. Patty’s mom lived in New York in the 1930s and 1940s, and underneath a sporting goods store with taxidermied animals and antique guns, Patty sells the most beautiful vintage clothing, reams of old newspapers (I bought one announcing Nixon’s resignation there), records, books, gorgeous china, for insanely great prices. I wish she had a more detailed web site, but if she did, it would probably ruin the bargains.

Books: Avol’s Bookstore. Run by good people who give a damn about quality and stock a lot of stuff they like just for the hell of it, resulting in some seriously interesting browsing. I assembled a pretty hefty Sherlock Holmes collection from here when I was in school.

Charity: Heifer. My family’s never been into charity gifts, exactly, but this past year, despairing of a birthday gift for my father, I bought him chickens through Heifer. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him that excited: He wanted to trace the chickens, where they went, wanted to know how the chickens got from place to place, whether they’d be eaten right away or lay eggs for a while … Next year I think he’s planning a trip to go SEE his chickens. They’re a good organization.

Books, clothes, coffee … I’m a pretty simple girl (Holden, I can hear the joke you’re about to make). Where do you all go for good things? Where will your money do the most good? What parts of your local economy should people have a hand in propping up?