With Christmas decor starting to appear in the background of TV commercials even when the product or service at issue has nothing to do with the holidays, the holiday season clearly is underway.
That means Thanksgiving is nigh, and that means so is Black Friday, that annual paean to consumerism that falls the day after turkey day.
Normally, Black Friday and the weeks after it until Christmas mean “blockbuster” events and “doorbuster” deals.
Like all large events during the time of COVID, those will be unusually tricky this year.
Responsible retailers will do everything they can to reduce the risk: require shoppers to wear masks, stick to the social distancing measures they already have had in place for months, provide sanitization stations, limit crowds.
This year, online shopping also is fraught with worry. Thanks to pandemic-related warehouse and postal slowdowns, according to shopping pundits everywhere, it’s almost too late to start your holiday shopping if you plan to do any of it online.
What then to do? Shop local.
It’s the option that The Daily News has long promoted but especially so this year when so many local shop owners took such significant hits because of pandemic restrictions — and still are. Back in May, as businesses across the county were gearing up for the Summer of Uncertainty, we wrote in this space:
“While large corporations get the glamor and attention when courting a local community, small businesses quietly go about their activities. No glitz, no massive tax breaks. I would bet that if you step out your front door, you can toss a rock into the yard of someone either owning or working for a small business.
“Locally grown and managed businesses are so much more than the sign on the side of the road. Picture the face of the person who created this dream or where someone landed their first job. Think of the families, depending on these modest businesses for a paycheck.
“Most shops may be small compared to those making national headlines, but locally and collectively, they are the heartbeat of our community. They are too small to fail.
“As we all learn to shape our new reality, let’s commit to spending our dollars with a purpose — one we carry with the same kind of respect we do in the voting booth.”
We stand by that advisement, whether you’re shopping for products, restaurant gift certificates, experiences or services. Your shopping experience will be friendlier, your gifts more personal, your economic impact more immediate and your health more easily protected.
The pandemic has caused many of us to rethink what we want and what we need. Whether that introspection leads you to buying bigger, better and more to make up for these months of social scarcity or to scale back to the basics, shop safe, shop sane, shop local.
• Margaret Battistelli Gardner