Monday, December 05, 2005

A Tightwad Shops Local

Shopping local in California can typically mean buying from the neighborhood strip mall. In Portland, though, shopping from locally-owned boutiques is a badge of honor.

I prefer not shopping at all, yet I am intrigued by all the start-ups on Alberta Street, my neighborhood thoroughfare. I peek inside the shops on a weekly basis, but am challenged by the $140 sweaters and $20 wind-up toys. It's tough for a tightwad to change her ways but, if I'm planning to buy a gift or a necessity, I'd rather skip Target and walk to my local boutique.

So, this holiday season, I'm slowly devising strategies for shopping local:

1. Buy less--holiday gifts can be fewer and simpler, but from my neighborhood store. I got sweet photo albums at Collage (1639 Alberta) for $5-$8.

2. Buy gifts at the grocery store--in this case, the Mexican grocery. La Sirenita market, next to the taqueria at 28th and Alberta, has good deals on Saint candles, way funkier and cheaper than some pseudo-schmancy tea light lantern at Pier One and the like.

3. Think tiny--my son adores collections of miniscule treasures, like the homies from La Sirenita's gumball machine, the beads & trinkets from Picasso's bead shop (30th and Alberta), and the stretchy reptiles at Grasshopper (18th and Alberta).

4. Try art--this is wild, but small works of art are actually some of the better deals out there. The gallery at 3oth has fused-glass bugs for $15 and Onda (2215 Alberta) has alebrije ornaments for $20.

5. Aim for maximum style with minimal items--one "Anarchy in the Pre-K" shirt from Wild Child (at 14th, see the website at says more than that outfit from Baby Gap.

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