No Amazon, no mall: Options for shopping locally from the comfort of home

When your love language is gifts, Christmas is golden and Amazon divine.

I know. Misplaced idolatry. Yes, my Christian soul cringes.

But my Christian soul hasn’t had to park the car a mile away and walk in sub-zero temperatures across an overflowing, icy parking lot only to be confronted by a mall teeming with Santa, his elves and 4 million people.

Amazon-driven lethargy and instant gratification have long since trumped that experience for me.

I do also believe, however, strongly, in supporting small businesses, the engines of our local economies.

So I’ve brainstormed gifting options that let me skip Amazon AND the mall, supporting local business owners even when I want to stick close to home.

Here are a few:

The Artery

I love art, but not so much that I’m going to go on a gallery crawl. The Artery is an online gallery of artwork created by Madison-area artists. There are similar options, though, in different cities, and etsy is available most anywhere.

Kid classes and camps

Options for short-term and one-off classes for kids abound. My 6-year-old son YummySprout3just made pumpkin lasagna, a winter salad, apple and berry crisp, and a cinnamon apple smoothie during a morning class through Yummy Sprout. Lots of places — Madison’s Kindermusik with Debbie and Green Bay’s Let’s Make Music-Music Together, for example — offer music classes for young children. And it’s not too early to think ahead to summer camps: Soccer, horseback riding, circus training … there’s really something for every interest. Just make sure you have parental permission before you commit.

Home bakers

With a judge recently ruling that Wisconsinites can sell their home-baked goods without a license, the number of options for sending tasty treats to neighbors, co-workers, family and friends has soared. Home bakers often use top-notch ingredients, without fillers and preservatives, and some even specialize in organic, gluten free, etc. They don’t often advertise much beyond word-of-mouth, so home bakers can be hard to find. Motherbility, though, has started compiling a list so you can find a home baker selling goodies near you.


From house cleaning to snowblowing, make craiglist your friend. Not every “small business owner” actually owns a business. Give your spouse a break by hiring someone to clean your home a few times. Find someone advertising child care services and set up six months worth of date nights. Make your elderly parent’s life easier by getting someone to clear their sidewalks and driveway this winter. Typically, you don’t have to live in a big city to have options. And if you’re going to pay for the service anyway, why not get it from the little guy?




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *