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Sat, Jan. 18

Focus on Williams' shops for those unique holiday gifts

Ah ... the holidays draw nigh and magic is in the air! I'm like a little kid dancing excitedly from foot to foot at this time of year, and it's not just about the gifting, either.

It's such a joyous and wondrous time. It's a chance to reflect on what's right with humanity, when for so much of the rest of the year we get pounded with what's wrong. A chance to reconnect spiritually, when the rest of the work-a-day year seems to try and alienate us from that which we hold sacred. We get to gather together with those we love to feast and celebrate the abundance and richness of our lives. This is a time of noble notions and actions, an opportunity to manifest heartfelt sentiments of peace and love, a time to express genuine gratitude and commit sincerely selfless acts. It's the high point of my year. I look forward to it with great anticipation.

For all the joy of this season, though, the holidays also bring with them a certain amount of anxiety and apprehension. There's the pressure to get the house cleaned and decorated just so, send personalized greetings to everyone I know on the planet, spend entire days cooking huge meals and baking fancy treats, throwing parties, wrapping creatively and mailing in a timely fashion, and the challenge of finding those "perfect" gifts. I've always wondered where us working stiffs are supposed to find the "extra" time to do all of this.

Shopping is the worst of it for me. Once I thought I'd designate a weekend and go on a Christmas shopping trip to Phoenix — what a nightmare. I was stressed out and completely over it by the time I even found a parking space. I felt like a bleeding fish at a shark feeding frenzy. It was ironic, too, that I had to compete with jillions of other wounded fish for the privilege of bleeding my credit card dry to come away with expensive and uninspired gifts.

The next year, I took my Christmas shopping trip to Flagstaff. I'm not quite sure why I was surprised that it was the same sort of experience with the same results. The only up side to moving this trip to Flagstaff it was that it only took me half a day (rather than another whole weekend) to take the stuff back that didn’t fit or didn’t work, albeit from harried clerks who didn’t know me or care in the least about my business and/or satisfaction.

The toughest customer on my shopping list is an older female relative. She already has everything she needs, buys for herself everything she wants and doesn’t really like anything I get for her. She's polite about it, of course, and tells me that she just loves my gifts, but I'm aware that as soon as I'm gone, it goes into the storage shed (or the trash) never to see the light of day again.

It was on the occasion of her birthday earlier this year that I was dreading another one of those Christmas-like "got-to-go-to-Flagstaff-because-I've-got-to-find-something" trips. As it happened, I ran out of time to get it in the mail and — gasp! — had to try and find something in Williams.

It was with a certain amount of resignation that I walked into one of our local merchants on my lunch hour. I'm personally acquainted with the clerk, of course, and felt comfortable explaining my quandary to her. She listened attentively and with genuine caring, brought out a couple of items she thought might fit the bill, and one was the perfect thing! It was with some trepidation, though, that I inquired about the price (you know the reputation this town has). When she told me it was just ten dollars after my local discount, I was both stunned and delighted!

I was also converted. Weaned, if you will, of the nasty habit of thinking that I have to go to Flagstaff for everything. As we head into the holiday spending frenzy, consider giving our local merchants a chance at your business. My personal experience is that Williams' reputation for not having anything and being overpriced is wholly undeserved. Not only can you find wonderful gifts at reasonable prices here, you get the added benefit of doing business with people you know, who genuinely appreciate it and care about your satisfaction. Besides, just think of how many Christmas cards you can get addressed with the many hours you'd otherwise spend going elsewhere to get hassled to death by people who don’t know you and who could care less about your business.

Give your local Williams merchants a try this holiday shopping season — it's a win/win situation!

(Terry Warnock is a Williams Grand-Canyon Chamber of Commerce board member.)

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