CULTON: Shop local this Christmas

There might not be much snow on the ground, and many of us may be feeling less jolly than in years past, but Christmas is right around the corner.

If you’re anything like me, you haven’t even begun your Christmas shopping, instead preferring to wait until the week before the holiday making a panicked, mad dash to collect gifts for everyone on your list.

This year, instead of packing into a crowded mall with people who won’t be socially distancing, let’s make an effort to support our local businesses. While shopping local may not be as easy as shopping big box stores, I guarantee you are bound to find something much more unique and special for every person on your list.

In Niles, you can find the perfect wine for that coworker you got in the Secret Santa draw at the Brass Eye before hopping down to Upcycled Artisan to browse through their many handmade items, such as blankets, candles and charcuterie boards, for a friend you want to impress. You can also pick up whimsical mugs and other tea accessories from Apothica Teas, specialty candles from Wrapped in Light LLC or a new book for the reader on your list at Shelf Life.

In Dowagiac, you find a gift fit for a fashionista at the Marshall Shoppe and Mariah’s closet, handmade goods at Oh My Old Made New, unique books at Olympia Books, colorful fabrics for the crafter on your list at Quilted Oak Leaf and the best Christmas-themed items you could imagine in Deck the Halls. You can even pick up a gift for the furry friend in your life at Bow Bow Bakery.

Don’t forget to check out one of the area’s many antique stores to find a truly unique gift. Or get someone on your list a gift card to one of our area’s fantastic restaurants — everyone loves to eat!

All of those listed businesses just make up a few of the many businesses that serve our area so well. This year, each and everyone one of our local businesses needs our help. COVID-19 has hit small businesses hard, and if we don’t support them now, not only with our words but with our dollars, they will not be here for us next Christmas. We can’t let that happen. Our small businesses are vital to our community.

So, before you rush out to the mall to fill your last minute shopping order, check out a small business instead and give yourself the gift of knowing that you supported your community and your neighbors.

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