Small Stores, Big Scarves


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I’m coming very close to the end of my year-long Mall fast, and I’ve already talked, at length, about the continued appreciation it’s given me for thrift stores. In addition to fostering my love for all things second-hand, it’s also increased my appreciation for local and independent retail vendors. You’d think, given the fact that both my parents are small-business owners, this appreciation wouldn’t need any fostering. After all, those very parents run a second-hand bookstore (White Rabbit Books), and Mom also co-manages a family flower/gift shop that my Opa and Oma started years ago (Vanderburgh Flowers and Gifts). But when your parents do something, it can sometimes stop seeming important or cool, because they’re your parents, and they’ve done it all their lives. But this Christmas brought it all back home again.

While this outfit is comprised almost entirely of thrifted items ($5.99 skirt, $4.99 shirt from Salvation Army, $0.75 Ralph Lauren belt from Bibles for Missions), the real star in this ensemble is my technicolour dream scarf. This scarf was a gifted to me by Mom, and available from Vanderburgh’s.


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This scarf, combined with my own experience in shopping for Christmas gifts, is a shout-out for shopping local and independent. As I set out to do some gift shopping for the recipients on my list, I was prepared to suspend my Mall-ban. If any of my Secret-Santa draws wanted something that could only be found the Mall, I would have fought the crowds and made the trip. Lucky for me, no one placed any such item on their wish list. Thus, my 6’8 Dad received a new sweater from Gilbert’s, a Hamilton retail landmark; my friend’s new babe is now decked out in an adorable ensemble from Mon Petite Chou down the road; my Mom-in-law received some goodies from Ten Thousand Villages, and other aromatic soaps and such from Vanderburgh’s.

While I did pick up a few items from large chains like Best Buy and Marshall’s, those trips highlighted how much more enjoyable my small-shopping was by comparison. When you shop at smaller, independent stores, you’ll often meet the owner of the business, which means they’re excited about what they’re selling you. They have a personal, vested interest in your satisfaction, because that’s what keeps their business afloat. They’re people like my Mom and Dad, who are basically the best ever. I realize this is starting to veer into Preach-ville, so I’ll wrap it up with this: you get nicer stuff and meet nicer people. If that’s not enough to entice you, take a good long look at my scarf: it has reindeer on it, you guys.


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On Christmas, I discovered that my secret Santas followed a similar shopping pattern. I came home with a beautiful throw, new reads, and the cutest salt n’ pepper shaker of all time, all from independent retailers (Oh! I also finally got some Tom’s, and they feel like slippers you can wear in public, which is what I’ve always wanted in shoes).

That overly-jubilant expression in the last photo is largely attributed to the post-holiday sugar high from too many treats. But when the snacks run out, and I inevitably crash, I’ll have my rainbow scarf to get me back out in the snow, like an excited golden retriever. Or reindeer.

#fashion #shopsmall #ralphlauren #Hamilton #HamOnt #thrifting #retail #salvationarmy

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