Editorial: A Very Merry Local Christmas
December 2nd 2011 · 0 Comments
BY MARK ZIOBRO
While “Occupy Wall Street” has been ushered out of Zuccoti Park, and Utica’s own “Occupy Utica” has wound down their physical occupation of Franklin Square, lasting impressions have been made upon the country. While one of the chief criticisms of the movement centers around the lack of a defined goal, the general consensus is that the movement stood for something positive that people would like to see developed.
One such point, as brought up to City Hall by Occupy Utica protestors, is to invest more in local economy. How to do this? Their answer–put City accounts in local banks like Bank of Utica, Adirondack Bank, NBT Bank, and, above all, shop locally.
Orin Domenico, owner of Café Domenico (along with his wife, Kim), has been one outspoken voice, both as part of the protest and before, about shopping locally. “…It is about taking our money, attention, and energies away from mainstream consumer culture and investing them in our own community,” he said in a speech delivered on the commencement of Occupy Utica protest.
Diverting away from large corporations, and investing in the local economy, however, isn’t really a new idea. It has been whispered in the ranks among those who understood the problem to be more than chance, and from those who understood that local businesses, and not mega corporations, make an economy great.
Parodies have even found their way into mainstream television when “South Park” held WalMart up to the proverbial microscope. When a rabble of townsfolk grows angry at WalMart for taking local jobs and seek to destroy “the heart of WalMart,” they solemnly discover the heart of WalMart to be themselves. Their dollars fund the corporation; if they wished the corporation to fail, they need only follow one simple rule: stop shopping there.
Now, with the holidays fast-approaching, residents are confronted with the usual mad-dash to fulfill lengthy shopping lists for family and friends. However, this year they are also poised for a unique opportunity: to keep Christmas shopping local.
While this notion may seem larger-than-life or impossible, events like “Small Business Saturday,” a day proceeding the madness of ‘Black Friday’ and aimed at supporting local merchants, have already set the stage. Utica, rich in history and development, has a plethora of local merchants for you to complete most, if not all, of your holiday shopping.
Utica has many local jewelers to choose from, including, but not limited to Englberts, Freeman and Foote Jewelers, Nicholas Jewelers, and The Gold Mine. While commercials for Kay Jewelers and their ilk rule the airwaves, these stores offer the same great selection with the added benefit of supporting local economy.
“My fiancé and I looked at over a dozen shops for my engagement ring, near NYC, CT, NH…and chose local over them all,” said Mel Mogensen, a local resident and active member of the CNY Roller Derby. “I’m planning a wedding and trying to stay local too–rings from Engelbert’s, dress from Pickers, and a reception at a local restaurant.”
Another idea for jewerly–don’t forget to check out the Indie Garage Sale, coming on December 10-11 at Union Station in Utica for local jewelry, crafts, and more.
Coffee and spirits
No one’s holiday party is complete without coffee and spirits–but that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep it local. An abundance of coffee shops such as The Tramontane Café, Café Domenico, Femia’s Parkway Café, Utica Coffee Roasters, and Roger’s Coffee Shop offer opportunities to support local economy while serving guests with top-of-the-line Joe.
“We try to keep our Christmas gift- giving free from all mall/big-ox buying,” said Orin Domenico. “We try to buy from local artists, locally owned stores and restaurants, and even from places that sell used stuff like consignment shops.”
And for those looking for wine and spirits for the holiday, try and keep these local too–limit wine purchases to New York State wines when possible. For beer, Saranac, produced at Matt’s Brewery in Utica.
Electronics and music
While electronics may be a bit of a problem, as most people are used to going to WalMart, Best Buy, Target, for such things, stores like the New York Connection and The Busy Corner offer used electronics, CDs, and video games. Also, Off Center Records, owned by local resident John Keller, is another great place to get CDs, Albums, and more. Big Apple Music, Nicotera’s Music, K-Music, and others can easily become your staple for musical instruments and sheet music. For appliances, don’t forget about Dave Hayes.
Tools for Dad
Tools for the Dad who likes to build things might seem like a arduous task for those trying to stay local, but don’t be quick to forget our own local hardware and lumber store Jay-K, located on Seneca Turnpike, in New Hartford. They offer a complete inventory of lumber, windows, tools, and everything inbetween–as well as a helpful staff that will go out of their way to make sure whatever present you’re looking for is the perfect fit.
Parties and more
While this list is nowhere near complete, try to be creative this Christmas and keep your money local whenever you can. Offering gift certificates to restaurants like Symeon’s and Kirby’s instead of 99 Steak House and Applebees can take care of your gift card urges, while shopping for holiday parties at Chanatry’s French Road Market, Haponowicz, and Price Chopper instead of larger chains can, as Chanatry’s themselves profess, “Make your money go the farthest but still stay at home.”
By Mark Ziobro