Remember holiday shopping?

The best things come in small packages - and maybe from small businesses

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

Maybe it’s just me.

Or maybe it’s COVID.

Maybe it’s the tech/human metaverse/singularity or whatever we are calling it this week.

Or maybe, for whatever reason, we are all getting more brain dead by the day.

Ever ask someone a simple utilitarian question, like how to do/fix or clean something, and they say “Google it”.

Or you ask someone where they got something, and they say “online”.

As if those answers had any meaning whatsoever.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting old and curmudgeonly (probably true) but every conversation like this makes me crazy.

Why would anyone respond to a question with an answer that I, and pretty much everyone else on the planet already know?

Yes, in our quasi-metaverse, when eBay, Amazon (and everyone else from Etsy to Pinterest to YouTube) does their best to convince us that they are “the everything store” maybe those simple questions like where something was purchased to how to repair something around the home are not purely informational.

Maybe, like every other era and culture in human history until the past decade or so, what we are looking for is not pure information, or even directions to the mythical universal market we call the cloud-based “online”.

We are looking for some kind of human connection.

Anyone remember what holiday shopping used to look and feel like?

You’d wander the decorated and lit up streets, bundled up, cheerful, and full of anticipation meandering in and out of local stores looking for the perfect thing for your loved ones – or, if we are honest, for ourselves.

But whatever the intent – or results, there was a bit of magic in the air, as you gathered your ideas, gift-giving strategies and, of course, packages from local store owners.

With chit-chat, encouragement and maybe a bit of helpful advice, coping with the holidays became a bit more manageable – maybe even enjoyable – thanks to this continual parade of encounters with strangers who may (or may not) share your beliefs or enthusiasm for the holidays.

But none of that mattered back then.

In the holiday season of times past people shopped without explanation, or justification or even concern – and certainly not conflict – over what anyone else believed or celebrated.

Besides being way more fun, shopping local is far better for our local economies.

Nationwide 76% of local retail businesses still aren’t at pre-COVID revenue levels. In fact, 23% of them are at risk of closing by the end of the year if sales don’t improve, and 40% of them couldn’t make November rent.

And 33% of restaurant owners say they could lose their business by year’s end.

When you make a commitment to bypass the big box stores and spend local this season, you’re doing far more than supporting local businesses.

You’re contributing to the base of your local economy as a whole: schools, community programs, jobs, organizations, and much more.

Tacoma, like many cities and towns, has a variety of holiday walks, strolls, or trails to follow featuring one of a kind, specially-made products.

The next time someone asks where you got that unique and unbelievably cool item or piece of clothing, don’t be a dull-eyed disciple of the Borg.

Tell them what independent store like no other in the known world has such odd, interesting and unlikely things.

Tacoma, and every other town around here has many such places.

They are worth searching for – and supporting.

And if you have a favorite unique place, you can vote for them here – until January 14th.

And don’t forget fabulous local one of a kind events like the Destiny City Film Festival (

And don’t forget the one of a kind Spaceworks ( in Tacoma. Among other things, they feature a Business Incubator Program, Entrepreneur Success Workshop, The Black Business Accelerator, 1120 Downtown and 1120 Hilltop Co-Working Spaces, and, of course, Artscapes.

Other towns have “Keep XXXXX weird” campaigns – we don’t need to keep Tacoma weird, we just need to help Tacoma’s weird businesses stay afloat.