I’ve long been a fan of Reverend Billy, creator of the Church of Stop Shopping, newly renamed The Church of Life After Shopping. (If you like, you can follow Reverend Billy on Twitter). In an effort to encourage Americans to avoid consumerism and help local economies (especially these days), Reverend Billy preaches the gospel of stopping the consumerist machine, buying local (local-lujah!), and being conscious of the effects of our purchases. In November, Reverend Billy appeared in Los Angeles. It was pretty inspiring to see him in action.
In looking over the audience that day, the Reverend admitted that he knew he was preaching to the choir. Still, he urged us to walk or bike to our holiday gifts this year, and I’m taking up the challenge. Since becoming car-free, I’ve often shopped for at least a portion of my holiday gifts online. I usually shop well in advance. I pick out books, often, and I have them shipped directly to family. This year? It’s December 22nd. My flight leaves tomorrow, and I just returned after heading out on foot with a spirited local-lujah!
What did I find? Well, there’s quite a selection within walking distance for me to choose from. I found handmade soaps at Soaptopia, where I learned from the owner that 68 percent of all purchases made locally stay in the community and end up benefiting the buyer (great news!) and where they will even gift-wrap a single bar of soap for you. I discovered sweaters and kids clothes at a store that just opened, Huebners, where the owner is a lawyer-turned-retailer who gets clothes that are made right here in Los Angeles. I also found some pretty snazzy books from Sam Johnson’s Bookshop.
My visit to each store brought a new conversation. The shop owners asked me about what brought me, my plans for the holiday, and advised me about the best parking spots (that was fun). Each thanked me for shopping locally this year — especially this year. In the end, I felt like I was giving more than one gift, which was a pretty cool feeling — all holiday-like and stuff.