So I mentioned in my last post (go enter the giveaway, if you haven’t already!) that I’m much further forward with my Christmas shopping this year than I would normally be at the end of November. I’ve taken advantage of a few well-timed discounts from some of my favourite online retailers, and I’ve already posted my sister’s gift – it landed in Dubai yesterday, so let’s see how long it takes to actually get to her…
You might have seen from my Instagram recently that Glasgow’s St Enoch Centre sent me the most exciting parcel of goodies to put me in the festive spirit, and I was happy to take full advantage (not least because the voucher they included meant I was able to start shopping without waiting for November’s pay!). You know, I’d never have pegged myself as a fan of a crowded shopping centre over the Christmas period when I could shop online instead, but as I settled down in Kimbles with a tasty hot chocolate and a salted caramel cupcake I could feel my Christmas cockles warming. Or something.
And then Black Friday and Cyber Monday happened – or International Email Newsletter Unsubscribe Week, if my Twitter was anything to go by. I use Unroll.me to manage the emails I get from mailing lists, which means that rather than getting bombarded throughout the day I’ve been hit with a digest of 42 emails every morning for the last week. With some retailers offering a sustained 40% discount for the entire week, it makes you wonder – why would anybody shop with them at any other time of the year? And what of those smaller businesses that simply can’t afford to make those cuts?
I’m not saying that anyone should feel sorry for the big city centre shopping centres like the St Enoch Centre (although, with the loss of one of their anchor tenants in the form of BHS earlier this year, it can’t be the easiest of festive seasons for them), and I’m certainly not criticising anyone for shopping smart and picking up a bargain. But with all these online retailers hustling for us to spend, spend, spend, it’s easy to forget that it’s hardly a bargain if you didn’t need it in the first place.
Look, this stuff is hardly revolutionary. Sustainably-made UK marketplace Made to Last, who you might remember from a recent feature on this very blog, posted something from a retailer perspective last week and my friend Jennifer, who stocks all sorts of Scottish designers and makers at the Braw Wee Emporium in Glasgow’s east end, has been making the same arguments for years. It was through Jennifer that I found out about the Just a Card campaign, which exists to highlight the fact that even the smallest of purchases can make all the difference to an independent retailer. The idea was prompted by the owner of a small gallery who, when financial circumstances caused them to close down, commented that “if everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we’d still be open”.
But it’s a particularly strong message to hammer home this week, ahead of Glasgow’s Etsy Made Local marketplace popping up at the Briggait on Saturday and Sunday. Over 60 Scottish designers and makers will be showcasing and selling some truly unique gifting ideas across the weekend, with a different line-up each day. This includes local legends like biscuit queen Nikki McWilliams, quirky art with a Glasgow accent by Claire Barclay and laser-cut acrylic jewellery from Bonnie Bling; my talented pals Alan Campbell Art, Cecilia Stamp, Freak Carousel, Lola Polooza, Neil Slorance and Squinty Stuff; and a whole host of new (to me) names I cannot wait to discover.
Whew, that all got a bit ranty, didn’t it? And here was me just planning to let you know that the St Enoch Centre has lots of fun things planned in the run up to Christmas (including, as usual, the opportunity to visit Santa’s grotto outside Debenhams on the first floor), so maybe don’t spend it all holed up in front of your computer, ‘k?