Shop Local – Shop Smart!

By Karen Wilson

Your local retailers are ready to help you make this the best holiday season ever. The stores are beautifully decorated and full of wonderful items. A little preparation will make a day of shopping easier and much more fun!

Before you leave, make sure you have your list – bring sizes and ideas for everyone so you won’t become frustrated walking around the store with no idea what to do. Also, decide on your budget beforehand. Most importantly, make the decision that you will decide on a gift – we say “decide to decide!”

As soon as you walk into the store, initiate a conversation with a sales associate. They are there to help you, and they really enjoy it! Ask about special promotions and where the sales racks are located – most stores have signage, but you may miss them. Your sales associate can also help you put together outfits and make suggestions you may not have considered. If this is a store you shop in a lot, building a relationship with a sales associate will benefit you in many ways.

Use the camera on your cell phone. If you see something you like, but you’re not sure, take a picture of it – and a photo of the store. Most stores allow this, but please do ask first. Take the photos home and make an album for each person on your list. Get a game plan for your buying.

Always ask what services the store offers. Do they gift wrap? Ship? We do both at Sea Island Trading Company and Callahan’s, as do many local stores and boutiques.

Gift cards are always a great purchase. But so many people don’t want to just hand someone a gift card. Buy a wallet or a little accessory – these small things make the gift more special. I like to buy multiple gifts cards in smaller denominations and keep them on hand in case I need an unexpected gift. I do the same with small hostess gifts – if I see one I like, I buy multiples.

When you decide to purchase, ask about the return policy. And always get a gift receipt. Most stores are happy to exchange Christmas gifts, but it may be a month or more between you purchasing the item, and it being returned. A gift receipt makes the return process quicker and easier.

For the social media savvy, check out your favorite shop’s Instagram account before you leave home. You can see what they have and get good ideas before you go into the store.

There is something very special about holiday shopping – get out there and enjoy!

About this writer

  • Karen Wilson

    Karen Wilson is manager and buyer of Sea Island Trading Company and a part of the buying team for Callahan’s of Calabash. She’s also a very savvy shopper! Sea Island Trading Company is located at 720 US-17 in Little River (843-273-0248) and find Callahan’s of Calabash at9973 Beach Dr SW, in Calabash, N.C. (910-579-2611).

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