Shopping? Think outside the big box

Tinker's Cart in Clinton, Mass
The Tinker's Cart in Clinton is an independently owned shop.

By Nick Parabicoli
 Even though the madness of holiday shopping is almost behind us, it’s still important to remember to support local businesses.
“By staying and shopping local you are not only helping yourself but the community as well,” says Beth Burns, the membership director of the Wachusett Chamber of Commerce. “Some people don’t even realize just how much it affects a community when people shop solely at malls or larger retail locations such as Target and Walmart. The local shops are very much hidden gems. They have a wide variety of great items.”
“There are a lot of upsides to shopping local,” said John Hughes, owner of the Tinker’s Cart in Clinton. “You don’t need to spend loads of money on gas to drive to faraway malls. You can go to all different types of stores in one day.”
An increase in shopping local could lift local vendors out of the economic slump that is affecting most of the country. Local merchants know this and they’re working together.
Cindy Cannon, owner of Sunrise Boutique in Clinton, said, “We (merchants) tend to work together. I will always suggest going to another store after mine to make sure that . . . we build a strong loyalty to our community . . . Every merchant in any business is grateful.”
The idea of circulating customers between shops may seem to be a conflict between competitive businesses, but these local business owners don’t feel that way.
“I always suggest shoppers break up their shopping days by grabbing a bite to eat at one of the great restaurants or shops around the corner. And I know the owners of those places suggest us to people just grabbing food. It benefits everyone,” Cannon said.
As your holiday-shopping hangover subsides, remember that the shops right around the corner might be your best bet for your next gift-giving binge.