Thursday, January 12, 2012

I Think I Get It

"A Fox Books Superstore."
"Quel nightmare."
"It has nothing to do with us. It's big, impersonal, overstocked, and full of ignorant salespeople."
"But they discount."
--dialogue from You've Got Mail.

When I blogged about needing to buy a cow to supply my family's milk drinking needs, I soon discovered a much more practical, and more affordable answer: Walmart.

Uggh. Does anyone really like Walmart? It's the Mother-of-them-all Superstores. The "but they discount" excuse drones into my head every time I step inside. I can get a nice gallon of skim milk for $2.09. Drinking our calcium has never felt so good. Thanks, Walmart.

But that is not the "Vermont Way". I've heard the phrase often, but I would ne'er be so bold to define it. Two years ago, during my first visit to Burlington (VT), a local I met at a chocolate store defined the Vermont Way as "growing your own food, preserving your own jam, and hunting your own venison." From my observations, Vermonters religiously follow the days of yore American motto "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." They are also well known for their passionate boycotts of big box enterprises such as Walmart and Target. You will find thrift stores around here to your heart's content. This same attitude applies to rural New Hampshire. I would dare say that the state's motto "Live Free or Die" speaks volumes about a lifestyle promoting a dependence on self. Here in the Upper Valley, I see a satisfaction and pride behind buying most things local and supporting the family farm just down the road.

And I love it.

What? This city girl transplant is loving it?

Didn't I mention this before?

I fear that I've all too often been one of those shoppers, Fox Books Superstore bags in arm, passing by the window of The Shop Around the Corner, while Kathleen Kelly is hanging up her twinkle lights. For a movie that I've seen hundreds upon hundreds of times, that sad scene tugs at my guilt every time. I wanna leap right into the screen to save Christmas.

So, rescuing The Shop Around the Corner I must! "One, two, three, four! We don't want this Superstore!" While I still frequently enter the previously mentioned evil chain store (the shame!), I'm trying to mend my ways by evaluating how I shop. Some of my favorite products:

Killdeer Farm--my CSA that I support.
Cabot. (The best dairy ever.)
Stoneyfield Farm organic yogurt.
King Arthur Flour.
Vermont Country Store. (It's even Martha Stewart endorsed.)
Garnet Hill (I lied. I haven't made a purchase yet. Everything in their catalog is on my wish list.)
Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Pure Vermont maple syrup.
Pick Your Own Farms.
Farmers' Markets.
Local diners--for the occasions that we go out to eat.

This past Christmas was the first year that I was able to kick Fox Books and Tom Hanks to the curb. Not perfectly and completely, but a couple of locally made purchases created some New England flavor to our Christmas magic.

These toys will be treasured forever. I dread the day when expensive electronics will take its place. In a few years when a job may take us away from New England forever, I'll be extra glad that we have these as reminder of this time. But, as I've timidly confessed to my mother who lives over 2,000 miles away, I love this place and would stay if I could.

Even if Target and Costco are over an hour's drive.

P.S. As much as I hate to see The Shop Around the Corner going out of business, I support American capitalism.
P.P.S. Kathleen Kelly still had a happy ending. Happy endings come with time though.
P.P.P.S. It may sound like I have a hidden agenda, but I do not.
P.P.P.P.S. Vermont has the best cheese on earth. They need to do a better job at capitalizing on that. I've spent my entire life wasting my cheese experience on less worthy cheese.
P.P.P.P.P.S. I prefer drinking the delicious milk from the local dairies, but quite honestly, I can't spend that kind of money to feed my family. Walmart wins.
P.P.P.P.P.P.S. I really don't have a hidden agenda. This is a family-friendly, politics free, and self-indulgent blog. Pinky swear.

And another thing...wanna take a guess what my favorite movie is? Nora Ephron is kind of a big deal to me.