a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Nov, 2020

The state of holiday shopping

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I have a new post up on the terra20 blog about the importance of shopping locally. You can read that right here… and while you’re there, take advantage of a big weekend sale on made-in-Canada merch!

So my mother bought me a lovely pair of moccasins for Christmas last weekend. (Thanks mom!) They’re Canadian made, from a family-owned shop near her place outside of Peterborough. We’ve been going there for years, although it’d been years since we’ve actually been inside. It’s called the High Spring Trading Post. Here’s their website. :D

During our recent visit I got talking with a staff member while we were cashing out. She turned out to be the daughter of the shop owner. I wondered if she was the one who sold me a pair of cowboy boots that I wore down to almost nothing almost 20 years ago.

I asked her how her store has been doing during the pandemic and her answer surprised me a little bit… Apparently she’s having a banner year. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised! After all, we weren’t the only customers in the store. There was a steady stream of shoppers (all masked and maintaining the proper distance, pretty much) and staff seemed to be constantly in restocking mode while we were there.

Then she told me the two reasons why she was doing so well (other than the excellent selection of moccasins, obviously):

(1) Her customers tell her they’re annoyed with the big e-tailers, like Amazon. Porch pirates, delayed and missing shipments, ordering and fulfillment problems were all driving people back to local shops they could trust so they could see, feel, and buy things in person.

(2) This shop is just off Hwy. 7, which happens to be on a route to some major music festivals in that area. Here’s the thing, thanks to Covid, there were no festivals this year. She said normally people are rushing to get to their destination on time and don’t stop, but they’ve always been curious, so this was the year they FINALLY pulled over and poked around the shop. She told me she wished she had a penny (“NOT A NICKEL, A PENNY”) for every person who stopped and said “I’ve always wanted to stop and come in here!” As it turned out, they stopped, and they shopped. I was happy for her, and happy for me because my feet will be warm this winter. :)

I have made a small dent in my shopping this year but it will be a smaller haul on the tree, methinks. I made a few purchases on Etsy, a crafters marketplace, but I am not sure if those orders will get here on time. Other than that, I will definitely be shopping closer to home this year. I am making my list, and checking it twice! What about you? I’d love to hear how and where you are buying your gifts this year. Are you online, offline, or a combination of the two?


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  • Lynn: Excellent to hear! Every person who reports getting the shot makes me feel hopeful, like we are one more small step closer to good times again. Our
  • a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive I got jabbed! #TeamPfizer - a peek inside the fishbowl: […] the same day our youngest turned 20, I got my first Covid vaccine. For the record, my next one is scheduled four months from […]
  • andrea tomkins: Heeeey! I'm glad it was a good experience for you! Thanks for letting me know. :)
  • Kylie: Thanks for telling us about the SavvyCompany fondue party! We signed up with relatives across Ontario as a fun (virtual) way to celebrate my mother-in
  • Charlotte: Thank you for this awesome post. it’s a very informative blog thanks for sharing with us.
  • andrea tomkins: I don't own any Miik items, just seen those pretty dresses from afar! :) I didn't know they made leggings and am intrigued...
  • molly: Have you purchased Miik before? I have a couple of dresses and I wear them all summer - like, twice a week - and they wash beautifully. And so so comf

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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