Supporting our Communities: Holiday Shopping in 2020

Guest blogger: Lacey Day

2020 has been a long, hard year. Many people see winter holidays as a “season of giving”, but right now, a great many of us are struggling. Physically, emotionally, financially and in every other possible way, we’re tapped out.  We are learning, fixing, growing, adapting, and protecting ourselves and our families to the best of our abilities.  We’re figuring out a new normal that involves monumental changes to everyday life, and it’s exhausting.

It’s easy to feel like you have nothing left to “give”.  

There are lots of small things that you can do, many of them costing almost no money and very little energy.

Here are a few examples of things that you can do:

Support Small, Local Business

For many Canadians, this is not the first year that online shopping will be the preferred method of gathering holiday gifts.  As COVID-19 continues to limit, and even prohibit in-store shopping, “big-box” stores and retail chains have poured attention into their online shopping platforms, going so far as to offer deep discounts and free shipping to lure patrons back.

While it’s certainly easy to order from one place, like Amazon or Walmart, and get everything shipped to your door, why not take a look at what’s nearby?  Makers are still making, crafters are still crafting, and artisans are all still doing what they do best.  Sure, they can’t always offer better prices than the competition, and shipping isn’t always free, but you’ll be putting your money in the pockets of people in your community at a time when they need it most.  Not sure how to find them?  Head to Google and search “shop local near me”, or “<thing you’re looking for> near me”.  You may be surprised at the bounty available in your own back yard!

Shop at retailers that support equality

Events of the spring and summer of this year have highlighted some serious problems with the way that entire groups of people are treated by society.  The marginalization and abuse of people who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour, people in the LGBTQIA+ community, and women, both biological and trans, stood front and center to show us that racism and inequality are not just a part of “history”; it’s happening right now.  

You can help by shopping with businesses and companies that have a proven track record of supporting BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.  Look for businesses founded and run by women, young people, people who are BIPOC and LGBTQIA+, and allies that are actively and openly working for change.  Again, the price may be a little higher, but the value to these communities is well worth it if you have the funds to spare.  

Donate in lieu of Gifting

Everyone has at least one person on their list that is difficult to shop for, or who insists that they don’t want anything this year.  Why not consider making a donation in their name to a local food bank, a children’s charity, a social activism group like BlackLivesMatter or Amnesty International, specifically to their campaigns to end violence and bring justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada (learn more here).  You could even to your local animal shelter or rescue organization.  Charities have been dealt a crippling blow this year, as most fundraising initiatives have become impossible due to COVID-19.  Right now, even a small donation would be very appreciated.

Like, Comment, and Subscribe

If your holiday shopping is already complete (#jealous), or if your budget has been reduced to less than a shoestring, there are still ways that you can help businesses, makers, and creators in your community and around the world!  Even better, they’re free, and require barely any energy at all!  In fact, you might already be doing it without being aware of it.

Social media platforms use algorithms to determine who and what appears on your timeline.  The more that you, and people in your demographic, interact with a retailer’s content, the more of those kinds of related ads you will see.  Unfortunately, this means that small businesses have to work extra hard to get their client base to like, comment, and subscribe to their content so that they stand a chance of showing up in a new customer’s feed. You can learn more about how this works here.

As you’re scrolling through your feeds, take a moment to “like” the posts of a business you care about.  Comment on the pictures your favourite soap maker or yarn dyer just posted.  Leave a review for the woman who made your fabric mask.  Re-Tweet and Share the posts from charities in need this season.  You can even seek out local online stores owned by BIPOC & LGBTQIA+ makers, or people in your community working hard to build their businesses online, and follow them.  You don’t have to buy anything, and you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas!

Caring for and supporting the people around us right now is vital.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed.  By taking a moment to stop, do a little research, and spend your money and energy in ways that impact your community, we can all spread the joy and kindness that the Season of Giving is truly all about.