As a retail worker, I have some things to ask of all of you as we go into what should be the tail end of this year’s Holiday shopping season, but is likely just the beginning.
1. SHOP LOCAL. A****n and Target and WalMart are going to be fine, but the local small businesses that give your neighborhoods and towns and cities their character may not. Wherever possible, buy from them instead, even if it costs a little more. (Remember that the little extra you’re paying goes to keep your neighbors employed and to taxes that pay for such luxuries as firefighters and road repairs and public schools and libraries.)
2. Take advantage of delivery and curbside pickup options from these local businesses whenever possible.
3. If they have a website, use it to order whenever possible. If you choose to place your order over the phone, be patient. The person answering the phone is probably doing so between in-store customers. Which leads into…
4. Many stores are running on less staffing than usual in order to maintain social distancing and, quite frankly, because they don’t have the funds to do otherwise. This means that things can take a few minutes longer than they do in non-pandemic times. If you want your packages wrapped, offer to come back and pick them up later rather than standing and staring at the poor overworked staffer while they do it. If you have a question or want to place an order, wait until the employee has finished ringing up the customers in line. Take those few moments to browse — you might find something you didn’t know you needed.
5. WEAR YOUR MASK. Maintain social distancing. And PLEASE stop arguing with the employees who ask you to comply with their store’s (or municipality’s or state’s) health guidelines.
6. Please understand that this year is not like other years. If you have waited until now to shop, you may find that stores are already out of things that were on your list and they may not get restocked until after the Holidays. Instead of getting mad, ask for advice for alternatives. That book you wanted for Uncle Mike is out of stock? The bookseller can recommend something else he’ll probably love. The tea you wanted for Cousin Beth won’t be back in until January? Maybe she’d like a new teapot or some local honey.
7. If you are shipping out of state (and maybe even in state) take advantage of whatever (more expensive) expedited shipping options are offered. Regular ground shipments of everything have been delayed for months and it will only get worse as we get closer to the holidays. Pay the extra for Priority Mail or Second Day Air to ensure your packages arrive in time.
SHOP LOCAL. BE PATIENT. BE KIND. WEAR YOUR MASK.
Billie Bloebaum is a bookseller at Third Street Books in McMinnville, OR.