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It's pretty easy to go to Amazon, or use Tesco's Boost scheme, but I'm asking today for you to support your local shops at this time of the year (and hey, why not all year?).
I hear lots of grumbling about how the high street is dying, and you wouldn't know which town you were in by the shops. I am sure this must be true in some places (what's your high street like?), but it isn't the case in the towns where I've lived.
In lots of towns we have great local shops, which are sometimes cheaper than the big online retailers, and certainly than the chain shops, and which support local jobs, and also community spirit.
I don't do it enough, but going to your local shops, and chatting with the people you meet makes you feel so much more connected to your hometown, and can help you make friends, besides which it's good for you to be walking around and connecting with people.
As well as the shops, at this time of year craft fairs are great for presents, and supporting local people, and as we're all getting ready for parties don't forget all the hairdressers, manicurists, barbers, and the clothes shops.
Also, a word on charity shops. Charity shops get discounts on how much it costs to run a shop, so no wonder there are loads of them, but that's no bad thing. The British people are great at supporting charity, and charity shops give us an excellent way of practically recycling things while making things better for people. The last present I bought was at a charity shop. I won't say what it was, but it was perfect for my good friend who has loads of stuff. I hope she likes it.
I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite shops from the towns I've lived in. I would love it if you could tell me about some of your local gems.
- Ilkley: Opulent Designs (is it really closing!?), and the designer kids shoe shops which sold us the most awesome T-Rex slippers.
- Otley: The market! and that little bead shop up the arcade (I need a name for that). Also the pubs in Otley are awesome, and I really miss the fantastic Victorian Christmas Fayre (when is it this year?)
- Saxmundham: The Store of course. I loved shopping there, and I miss it. Also the ironmongers - BC Fishers.
- Moffat. Anywhere on Well Street, but a special mention to Moffat Book Shop (which is under new management, and I hope that anyone who pops in to buy a book will remind Gillian that her writing is amazing, and she should get on it), and to Harvest Time, who went beyond the call of duty making extra Ecclefechan Tarts for us one Christmas (if you don't know what Ecclefechan Tarts are, you're missing out, but they're a bit like mince pies, and you'll find a recipe here, or, better still, pop in to Moffat and buy some from Harvest Time).
- Largs has so much to choose from. Special mentions go to the Toy Station and the Bus Stop Toy Shop for great customer service, and smashing prices, you can't beat the butcher, fishmonger, and greengrocer for your Christmas dinner shopping, and I'm a big fan of both Largo and Bluestone for presents.
So, come on, give me your suggestions, and let's all ensure we buy at least some of our Christmas stuff locally.