Skip the Mall this weekend in the Canton Arts District
By Todd Walburn
I am no stranger to the mall. As a child of the ‘80’s it was the center of my social and economic life. Evenings and weekends were spent roaming one of the consumer palaces that were within driving range of my suburban home, visiting with friends, eating sugar in all of its various incarnations and honing my developing fashion sense to something that resembled a hybrid of Cliff Huxtable and Cyndi Lauper. It was bright and effortless and oddly comforting, this plastic replica of a neighborhood market. It may have been the sugar but it seemed like the place where everybody shopped. It was where we met and where rivalries were borne. It was also where you could buy an engraved clock, a hot pretzel and underpants under the same roof in less than 20 minutes.
After college, in the midst of a recession, with no jobs in my chosen filed I briefly worked in a mall and found it to be anything but comforting and effortless. Every day truckloads of identical shirts were unloaded onto the sales floor and I was charged with explaining to my customers how miraculous the material was or how much the color would accentuate the color of their eyes (or some such nonsense). I would sit on my lunch break in the food court eating plastic food from a plastic tray with a plastic fork and wondering when everything became so….well…..plastic.
That I ended up owning a small business is no mistake. I get to sell things I love to people I know. I get to talk about the work of people I admire and respect to customers who are eager to hear the stories. I am grateful for the opportunity to help individual artists make money doing something they love. I love that that money stays in our local economy and that the more that we feed that cycle of sustaining our own community it snowballs and leads to growth in small neighborhoods and downtowns that have been neglected for decades.
During the holidays we have so many opportunities to spend money at any number of brick and mortar stores and even online. Despite all of the choices, however, I have seen an increase in sales from people who have changed their habits and updated their traditions to something more…well….traditional. More people are choosing to shop small on Black Friday and venture out to their local shops and boutiques on Small Business Saturday. It’s not just great for the bottom line of small business, it’s great news for the people who live and work in your community.
This weekend, the business owners of The Canton Arts District encourage you to add another date to your local shopping calendar. Saturday, December 12th from 12 to 5 you are invited to “Skip The Mall” and make a day of shopping in the boutiques and galleries of Canton’s unique jewel right in our own downtown. You will find art, of course, but you may be surprised how much of your list you can check off with one trip to the galleries and studios of The Arts District. Holiday décor, candles, jewelry, pottery, glass, hand-crafted cards, vintage clothing and collectables all can be found within just a few blocks of each other. Make a day of it and don’t forget to fill your belly and feed your soul at any of the restaurants and bars within the district while you’re here. Parking is free all day Saturday as well. Take advantage of our warmer temperatures this Saturday and venture outside into the light of your own hometown and find something special for everyone on your list (including yourself). You’ll be sure to get a sincere “Thank You” from a store owner who genuinely appreciates your business and wants you to come back whenever you need just the right thing.