Last April, I undertook a self-imposed moratorium on shopping in the city. My intention was to concentrate on fulfilling my daily needs within my hometown area, and I want to share with you some of my biggest surprises and how I managed to survive while depriving myself of neither necessities nor frivolous material whims. I am not without shopping-sin (curse you, Old Gringo) but after a year of research, I feel qualified to preach on the joys of shopping at home.
Something I knew before this project began but which became even more abundantly obvious is that customer service in small towns is nothing short of stellar. Whether I was looking blankly at a shelf that was lacking tanning lotion or an array of ink cartridges that did not include my specific number, or whether I was sitting in the crowd at the Stockyards – employees and owners wanted to know if there was something they could help me find. Without exception, local business offered to order in exactly what I wanted when they didn’t normally stock it. Oh, there is one exception - the stockyards, who cannot not seem to find a bovine that doesn’t scare me (they’re still looking though.) For the last three years I have been yearning for a thumb ring. I have tried on rings in expensive jewelry stores, mid-range jewelry stores and even American jewelry stores. You city people may laugh at what you are about to read – and that’s okay because it made me chuckle, yes it even brought a head-shake – I found the COOLEST thumb ring in the feed store. It is a Montana Silversmith black and silver ring and like tattoos, I should have been born with it. Insider tip: if you don’t find something in a small town, look in the least obvious place – if you still don’t see it, ask someone. It’s there somewhere, they just don’t know what it is called.
You get what you pay for. I proved this over the past year when I needed to make two major purchases of the same product. One was purchased at a sale price in the local furniture store and one was purchased for much less in the city during a Boxing Day sale. The one from the city is larger and was less expensive, but the one I bought locally is the one I use more (especially to watch curling, which is a religion in SK and therefore mandatory on Sundays). Whether it is brand name clothing at the fashion store in town or furniture or saddles or cowboy boots, the items that are popular in our small town are popular for a reason: we don’t have to buy them again soon. This may seem counter-productive to a big-box mentality, but if you buy a $10 shirt and it shrinks, are you going back to the same store for another $10 shirt?