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Having just returned from a whirlwind tour of Mediterranean ports, I can assure you that I am a fan of shopping locally whenever I travel. Local foods, local wines, local crafts. My suitcase and carry-on bags were filled with gifts for my friends and family: pashminas from Turkey, leather gloves and silk scarves from Florence, handmade paper from Venice, wine from Sicily, and chocolates from Provence. Now as I sort through my treasures I think back on the conversations I had with the local vendors as I made my choices.
There was Beatrice, an 80-something retired teacher from Provence who hand sews sachets for her home-grown lavender; a clever Turkish boy who implored that I was “killing him” in the traditional bargaining banter; and a lovely mademoiselle who carefully wrapped the boxes of chocolates I selected for the chocoholics in my life. They are gifts for my friends, to be sure, but also warm and delightful memories of a trip to far-away places with humble entrepreneurs like myself just trying to eke out a living by selling something simple, local, handmade.
Shopping is such a personal and even intimate activity. Have I chosen the right colors, the perfect size, the preferred flavors? Does the gift tell a story or embrace a memory? Sometimes the meaning of the gift may be lost in translation, but the spirit of giving remains pure.
So as I anticipate this holiday shopping season, I endeavor to shop locally whenever possible to support the local economy and choose my gifts wisely. But I also want to embrace the activity of shopping, not just the result. Often in such a simple exchange stories are shared and memories made, because each of us, shoppers and vendors alike, are just people in the end. Simple, ordinary people, living our lives and sharing our wares in the places we call home.
If your travels bring you to Cape Cod this holiday season, here are some of my favorite places to shop locally. Be sure to engage the proprietors for some local insight and inspiration. And if you need a place to lay your head at the end of a long day of Christmas shopping, be sure to call us here at the High Pointe Inn on Cape Cod. We’re good listeners and great storytellers. Happy Holidays everyone!