Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

The Surefire Way Not to Get Coal for the Holidays

The Surefire Way Not to Get Coal for the Holidays

Give to your family and friends as well as your community by shopping local this holiday season.


I love giving presents. Racking my brain for ideas, scouring the city for gifts, and most of all seeing the look on my friends and family’s face when they open the prefect present. But, then again, what do you expect from a girl whose nick name is Merry? I love the holidays!

Gift giving is not a task I take lightly, partly because I love my family and friends and partly because I’m a perfectionist. This year I have a new requirement for my gift hunt – getting all local gifts. StayLocal is “challenging” New Orleanians to do 100% of their shopping locally for the holiday season. We’re calling it a challenge, but with the plethora of local options here in town, it’s actually really easy. We all know New Orleans is full of great places to get one-of-a-kind presents, but what else are you giving when you spend locally?

5a08189ed2fdc2152f8cfa3ba6bbd9d8New Orleans is unlike any other city in the world and shopping locally keeps it that way. You help maintain New Orleans’ diversity and distinctive flavor while building stronger neighborhoods by supporting local economies. Your dollars spent in locally-owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains. Your local shopping simultaneously creates jobs, funds more city services through sales tax, invests in neighborhood improvement and promotes community development.

With more money circulating within a community rather than being funneled out to corporate headquarters out of state and even out of the country, there is more opportunity for local entrepreneurship and business ownership. A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. Furthermore, local ownership means that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

Furthermore, local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

e09126e7a14ed31e29ab4fdb14535648To be honest, I knew all these facts when I started working at StayLocal, but I still never made a full-hearted effort to shop local. That changed when I got to meet local business owners and hear about their passion for their work. Shopping locally has made me feel more a part of the city. That is why this year StayLocal is doing “12 Days of Nola.” Every day for 12 days we get up close and personal with owners of great New Orleans businesses that have the perfect local gifts for anyone on your list.

The holidays are often criticized as a time of excess and consumption, and they can be or you can be mindful of your purchases. Instead of buying cheap presents from Amazon for your friends, what about a hand-made piece from a local retailer like PlumSÖPÖ, or Miette? Is your dad tired of getting socks? What about an update to his shave set from Aidan Gill for Men or a stylish piece from Fraques? Is mom redoing the house (again)? Pick up the perfect accessory from Modern Market or Silk Road Collection. Or if you are like me and have a picky little sister who you know will hate anything you get her, shop a local retailer’s e-commerce site (easier to return) like Feet First or Nola Couture.

If you need a few more ideas, I have tons!

12 Days of Nola – Each day we feature a new business on our website/social media.


StayLocal’s Present Picks – Local gift guide.


StayLocal’s New Orleans’ Gifts – An (on-going) Pinterest board of local gifts.


Yelp’s “Nifty Under $50” – Local gifts for under $50!


A local present gives to more people than you realize. If every family in the country spent $100 of their holiday shopping budget at locally owned, independent businesses over $7.8 billion* would be directly returned to local communities. What could we do with that money to make a better New Orleans?

* Based on Civic Economics Andersonville Study of Retail Economics: When you spend $100 at an independent business, $68 returns to the local economy versus $43 when spent with a national chain. Based on U.S. Census projection of 115 million households.




This entry was posted on December 15, 2014 by in VISTA Field Reports.



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