December 2011

Smart shopping

Among the many anonymous chain e-mails that perpetually clog our inboxes, there is one we saw recently that actually offers some good advice.

It discusses the fact that many of the goods that will be so temptingly dangled in front of us this Christmas season are made in China or somewhere else outside this country, and offers suggestions for gift-giving with American products or services instead.

Now, the Chinese and all the other peoples in the world have a right to make a living, and we aren’t advocating some blanket, xenophobic opposition to foreign-made goods. But serious and legitimate concerns about China’s currency manipulations, our trade imbalance with that nation, the conditions under which its worker labor, and the state of our own economy make this a very good time to think about “buying American.”

The chain e-mail offered a number of suggestions for gifts other than flatscreen TVs and other electronic gizmos made overseas. We’d like to share some of them, and add a few of our own. So, instead of rushing to one of those Big Box warehouses or giant department stores, consider giving some of the following:

• Hand-made apparel available in area specialty stores. It costs more but it’s also worth more.

• A gallon of beer from a local brewpub, or a few bottles of wine from a local vintner.

• Gift certificates to locally owned coffee shops and restaurants.

• Memberships to area gyms or rec centers.

• Gift certificates for services such as computer repair, house-cleaning, yard work, or furniture reupholstering.

• Art work, jewelry or pottery made by artisans in the Four Corners.

• Tickets for the SouthWest Colorado Concert Series or some of the great shows offered by Fort Lewis College’s Community Concert Series.

• A charitable contribution in your name to the Good Samaritan Center or Bridge Emergency Shelter in Cortez, For Pets’ Sake Humane Society, KSJD Dryland Community Radio, Hospice of Montezuma County, the Piñon Project, or another fine local non-profit.

• A pet from a local animal shelter (if the recipient agrees to an addition to the family in advance, of course).

• A Christmas tree or plant from a locally owned nursery.

• A bag of tasty local pinto beans.

• Gift certificates for massages, haircuts or manicures from non-chain outlets here at home.

The ideas are as limitless as your own imagination. Just try to emphasize buying local products and services over products from out of town, and American products (or at least foreign items produced in a way that empowers rather than exploits the underprivileged) over cheap, sweatshop- created goods.

Look to local shops rather than chain or Internet outlets. The brickand- mortar stores are where you’ll find the right kinds of products. There are many fine shops in downtown Cortez, Mancos, and Dolores, and at least one, The Finishing Touch, sells only items made in the USA.

Shopping wisely doesn’t just mean shopping for the lowest prices. It means making purchases that support the values and practices you believe in. This holiday season it’s time to support our own merchants and workers. Shop smart.

CORRECTION: The editorial in the December Free Press incorrectly stated that a store in downtown Cortez, the Finishing Touch, sells only merchandise made in the USA. The error was made by the editor in a moment of insanity, which one can only hope was temporary, when she misinterpreted “nothing made in China” to mean only items made in the United States. The Finishing Touch does in fact sell merchandise from Europe and some other nations, but nothing from China.