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It’s Shopping Season!

Written by Saige Albert
As I returned to work on Monday from the Thanksgiving holiday and began to prepare for Christmas season, I couldn’t help but notice trees in the backs of trucks and families bundled up to brave the cold weather for winter fun. It’s also hard to avoid the crowds and chaos that surround shopping centers across the country.
    It’s shopping season! And it’s the time of year when we spend some of the extra money we have on the people we love, preparing for Christmas morning.
    Last Friday marked the “official” first day of holiday shopping, known by many as Black Friday. Americans spent $52.4 billion over the four-day weekend. Then, on Cyber Monday, online shoppers influenced a 15 percent increase in web purchases, with 7.4 percent of that increase in shopping from mobile devices. Over the weekend, shoppers spent a record-breaking average of $398.62 per person. That’s a lot of money spent, and a lot of money funneled out of America to the rest of the world.
    I am all too guilty of attempting to one-stop shop by heading to the mall or Wal-Mart, or even hopping online and ordering gifts from around the world. I think this year I’ll change things up a bit and think about avoiding my favorite online outlets to check out something a little more local.
    In the last few months, I’ve been making a special effort to see just what the talented Wyoming citizens have to offer.
    I’ve seen soap that makes my skin softer than ever before, lamps made from used ropes and I even discovered a barbeque sauce that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. There are women and men out there dipping chocolates, making high quality saddles and tack and even crafting beautiful purses and jewelry. The collection of products available is simply too vast to even begin to mention them all.
    Wyoming has a lot to offer as far as places to find those unique, hand-made products that last longer or taste better than things you might buy in at big box retailers, and in purchasing them, we support our friends and neighbors. If you ask any small business owner, I’m sure they will tell you that you should buy from the locally owned shop on Main Street rather than a corporate giant.
    Even when you’re getting ready to choose your Christmas tree, think about where it came from. You can buy a permit from the Forest Service, and cut a Wyoming-grown tree for your home, rather than picking up a plastic variety made in China. The American Farm Bureau Federation reminds us that real trees remove carbon from the air and, if you buy your tree, are grown by American farmer. It seems like a pretty great way to support American agriculture yet again.
    As you’re shopping for Christmas presents, think about checking out Wyoming stores, owned and operated by your friends and neighbors. Maybe a gift subscription to the Wyoming Livestock Roundup or a gift from one of the advertisers featured in our “Christmas Corral?” Look around the corner downtown, rather than around the web. It’s Christmas time, so have some fun shopping and think about spending money in your communities this season!
Saige