December 2023, Island Resilience

Holiday Shopping, Vashon-Style!

By March Twisdale

Some tend to wax negative about shopping during the holiday season, expressing concerns over thoughtless consumption of resources or over-commercialization. In truth, there’s nothing wrong with shopping. We do it all year round, and for good reason. It’s human productivity expressed and shared. And during the winter, traditions focused on love, kindness, light, music, good food, and joy are often vital for those who find the bitterly cold months challenging.

So, yes! Let yourself enjoy the “gift-giving season!” Here on Vashon, we’re not fighting the crowds at a mall, nor are we standing in long lines, surrounded by strangers. When we decide to amble through our beloved town, we’re browsing unique and sense-stimulating items that have been carefully selected by local business owners who excel at knowing our tastes – and surprising us!

Eugenie Mirfin, the owner of Kronos, looks forward to the special moments that fill her store throughout the holiday season. She especially enjoys watching Islanders run into friends they haven’t seen in awhile, fathers bringing their daughters in to help pick out a gift for Mom, grandparents searching for the perfect stocking stuffer, and holiday tourists she’s come to know by name, as they make December shopping trips to Vashon Island a family tradition. While wrapping my own early-purchased Christmas gifts, Eugenie pointed out that gifts purchased at Kronos (like many other Island stores) are super-easy to exchange later, if the size isn’t quite right or a different color is preferred, with no dreaded long lines at the mall or post office! “Even if you think you know what you’re looking for,” she added, “wandering through well-stocked and lovingly curated gift shops can lead to unexpected inspiration!”

Vashon Islanders deeply appreciate community businesses’ role in building up the local economy. Deja Starr, of Vashon Bikes, summed it up as, “Use it or lose it.” In her words, “Locally owned and operated businesses are uniquely important in that they use their expert knowledge to curate services and products that appeal to their specific community. When people purchase something through a small business, they are telling that business (and their distributors) that they are necessary. This ensures stronger margins for business owners, lower future costs to customers, and long-term business sustainability. The more we collectively choose to support brick and mortar businesses instead of purchasing online, the more services we secure for our community. That is how a community not only survives, but thrives.” 

“But, wait! What if they don’t stock what I want?” Not a problem!

Vashon Bikes, Ace Hardware, Thriftway, Minglement, Pandora’s, and a plethora of other stores on the Island place weekly orders from huge warehouses. If you want it, they can probably get it, and are happy to do so! Consider our Island’s much beloved Vashon Bookshop. With orders placed 3-4 times a week, it’s easy to receive books in time for the holidays. They can even ship directly to your home or the intended recipient’s home. Drop by between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (except Tuesdays) or call 206-463-2616 for answers to all of your questions.

Curation, curation, curation. Not every business will thrive in every location. The owner of Giraffe, Priscilla Schleigh, is an excellent example of careful, community-oriented curation. She knows Islanders are generous by nature, conscientious about their impact on the environment, and love to make every carefully spent dollar count. Gifts purchased for our loved ones at Giraffe are also gifts given to myriad communities around the world. Drop by to see a world’s worth of imported, handmade items, knowing the profit goes straight to the artists and small business owners. Imagine the good you can do while stuffing stockings and spreading holiday cheer to the ones you love here at home.

And … let’s keep our Island money on our Island. Online shoppers are forced to pay with plastic, automatically racking up fees and other “Bank Taxes,” making December the biggest “resource extraction” month of the year. Are we okay with this? No. Which is why many Islanders are now cultivating a “cash habit,” according to local business owners and banks. Go Vashon!

This month, stop by your favorite ATM machine, grab some cash, and enjoy the town! Meet friends for lunch, sip on a hot seasonal drink, or munch a crunchy, chewy, sweet, or savory pastry as you window shop and meander. Know that, as you find just the right gift to express your love and appreciation for the intended recipient, you’re also spreading joy and economic prosperity to your community, one local purchase at a time.

One last thought. During most of my life, buying gifts was hard. So, I made gifts. In my 20s, I gave cookies and mailed Christmas Cards. This year, I’m knitting two scarves out of island-woven yarn and the stockings will be mostly filled with nuts in their shell and citrus fruits. The point is to take time to appreciate those we love, and a handmade gift is always as good as one bought at a store.

December 8, 2023

About Author

March Twisdale

march March Twisdale has called Vashon Island home for nearly twenty years. A lifelong advocate of independent thought, March believes there are as many right choices as there are people in the world. She looks forward to bringing inspiring content to Vashon Loop readers, as she's done for eight years with her radio show - Prose, Poetry & Purpose. Find her on Substack.com by searching "Our Thoughts Matter."