by Joey Phoenix
I can see them now. Shoppers all over the United States will be cramming their faces up against windows of major chains on Thanksgiving night, somebody’s elbow jabbing them in the ribs, a small child wailing because its mother brought it to Wal-Mart before it could have its third slice of cherpumple. The blood, sweat, and broken bones of black Friday leaves me yelling “SKIP!” while I drink my vegan eggnog (from Milk and Honey, obviously) and watch the entirety of Twin Peaks for the third time this year.
Because I have a better plan, one I don’t feel like keeping to myself.
I live in Salem, which is naturally one of the most perfect cities on earth. Its rich and vibrant downtown is the perfect hideaway from over-cologned great aunts and fundamentalist uncles. While your cousins are out at the shooting range, your sisters are knee deep in dishes covered in turkey fat, and your Mom is wading through the piles of discarded cardboard at Target, you can take advantage of the bounty that exists here in your own town. You can stroll down the elegant cobblestones of the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall giggling to yourself because who knew that life could be so grand?
Here’s some of the places I’ll be shopping, and it’s where you probably should be too.
You’ve read every book on your IKEA shelves at least 1.25 times except for that weird book by Neil Gaiman about oceans (even though you told everyone you read it and adored it because, let’s face it, Gaiman is a demigod.) However, you just LOVED the newest Dan Brown book and know that your dear Aunt Mildred deserves a copy for Christmahanakwanza. Good news! Your friendly neighborhood bookstore will probably have it, but they’ll also have books that are vastly more interesting and better written, as well as toys and bags and scarves and irreverent mugs with sayings that would make Santa blush.
You need everything in this gallery. You didn’t know you did, but you do. Buzz Lightyear and Woody fighting it out Terminator style? You need it. Enormous Simpsons/Chocolate bar mashups? You need it? Pop art that covers all the bases.
You need it.
There are so many better post Thanksgiving trauma coping mechanisms than alcohol, and at least twelve of them involve collecting egg timers shaped like adorable figurines. On dark, cold, winter nights you can set them all, line them up on the window sill, and then sit and watch as each of them goes off in perfect harmony. It’s something Gershwin would be so very proud of.
But also, there’s wine. You can never go wrong with wine.
What better way to ward off the sticky vibes of politics, religion, and sports which permeate holiday dinner conversations than to call upon Odin himself to lay down the gauntlet. Furthermore, candles, herbs, runes, and books make excellent gifts for the neo-pagans in your life, especially if you’ve already brought them the head of their enemies the Yule before.
Unlike in summer where running naked through the streets with blue and orange streaks across your chest is perfectly acceptable in downtown Salem, in winter it may seem a bit too jolly – particularly when you’ve slipped and fallen into a puddle of ice and have become stuck. No one will want to help you. The good news is that there are stores which sell fabric cut and sewed into designs called clothing which you can layer to give yourself and your loved ones an artificial skin. Supposedly some of it will help you stay warm, some of it will make you look more like other humanoids, and some of it will inspire random bursts of dancing.
Is your first language snark and your second language sarcasm? Do you offer apologies by delivering succulents to the doorstep of the offended? Do you understand cats more than you understand humans? For every situation in life, do you feel like there should be a greeting card for that?
Wait, there’s an entire avenue full of artists? Are the artists for sale? You know you’ve always wanted to buy an artist…
When you’re the kind of person who leaves the house each morning with a perfectly waxed mustache and an expertly tied cummerbund, you know that style is like a second nature. One either has it, or one does not. Track suits and flat rim lids are not for you. No-sir-ee. You’ve walked straight out of the 1890s and need something with a touch more class. An Edwardian-inspired wool top hat perhaps? Mayhaps a cephalopod bedecked leather cuff? Or mayhaps even some wall art inspired by Herbert George Wells himself?
Look no further than Emporium 32.
You’ve got a date for that upcoming sock hop but absolutely nothing to wear. Heartbreak Hotel has been on repeat for days, and your last good petticoat just ripped in half. There’s nothing to do but cry “Oh my golly!” and head to Modern Millie where you can pick up a purse shaped like a poodle, a vintage muff, and a dress printed with the King himself in tiny smiling joy all over it. Whether you’re an Audrey, a Marilyn, or a Madonna with a deep love of neon green, you won’t have to pinch any real poodles to find that look you crave.
Small Business Saturday is on Saturday Nov. 25th 2017.
If you live in Salem and don’t shop local, Nosferatu will come to your home and turn you into a newt.
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