Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday 2009 - Shopping in Aptos

Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time know that I absolutely hate to shop, unless, of course, it's for food. But today, I have to say, I had a wonderful experience.

After a light breakfast, Dave and I walked down the hill onto the town's main street level, lined with small, locally-owned shops. We had a few things in mind to buy while in town - I wanted to pick up some groceries to make bread with the Amish Friendship starter Chile gave me during our visit, meds for Dave as he has a bit of a cold, a book for my mother-in-law, and a pair of hiking shoes for me (the only ones I had were donated months ago because they hurt my feet so much I never wanted to hike - pointless, right?).

It turns out, to accomplish all these goals, not only did we not need the car, but we could shop all-locally owned in the process! Awesome!

Our first stop was to Bookworks (photo above) to purchase a book for Dave's Mom - a book I loved and wanted to share with each of our mothers (click here for the book review). Bookworks is a wonderful bookstore - a place where you want to browse, relax, and enjoy the atmosphere. Unfortunately, its much smaller than it was even last year due to the economy, and no doubt, the increase in big-box stores in the area. I asked the clerk as we entered where we might find the Guernsey book and she immediately knew exactly where it was and smiled at the request (perhaps she read and loved it as much as I did).

We took time to browse - it's just that kind of store, warm and welcoming - and as we were browsing, we noticed a boy, maybe 10 years old, pull up on his bike, enter the store, and politely ask the clerk for a copy of a book he wanted to buy for his father's birthday. Um, can we adopt you? Seriously! He biked to a locally-owned shop (wearing a helmet), was polite as can be, and did it all to buy something for his father's birthday. Maybe it's the holidays, but I have to admit to feeling warm and fuzzy at the scene.

The next stop was for my hiking shoes. Originally, we planned to drive into Santa Cruz to one of the large sports stores, but when I saw Fleet Feet Sports right next door to Bookworks, I wanted to check it out first. Owner Tom Griffen greeted us, welcoming us to his store. We told him what we were looking for and he ushered us to a couple of chairs and gave us the shoe experience of our lives. I'm SO not joking! In fact, Dave decided he wanted to explore the possibilities too. Check this out...

First he measured each of our feet, both standing and sitting, asked us about our foot, knee, and hip health, and had us walk across the store and back to witness first hand our walking tendencies. All this information helped him select the best shoes for our feet. Of course, he explained everything as he went along so that we understood why these steps were necessary (which was GREAT for me since I have so much trouble with my feet and knees and have trouble finding shoes that don't hurt).

He slipped to the stockroom for a moment and brought back 2 selections for each of us. After lacing us up, he took us outside to walk the sidewalk so we could get a good feel for the shoes and he could see again how we walk to assess whether the shoes would suit us long-term. After we tried both shoes, he brought one more set out for each of us, going through the same routine. By the time all this took place, we had to have spent an hour or more with him, as he patiently walked us through the process. Having gone in to buy only one pair of shoes for me, we ended up both getting a pair of shoes that felt great. Honestly, I've NEVER been that comfortable in a pair of shoes. And he wasn't just sharing with us, I also shared with him my love for buying from local sources, told him about Big-Box Swindle (which he seemed VERY interested in), and shared stories of home.

For someone who flat-out HATES to shop, I have to say, this was the most wonderful shopping experience of my life... AND I got a great pair of shoes out of it. Thanks, Tom!

On the way back home, we stopped into the shopping center where a small, locally-owned pharmacy was (to get Dave's cold meds) as well as Aptos Natural Foods (where I visit each and every time I'm in town). If you love healthy food, it's a given you'll love this little store. With one row dedicated to bulk everything (including honey, oil, and cereal), another full of fresh, organic produce (much of it local), and much, much more, it's foodie-heaven. We purchased our needed supplies plus a vegan ginger-spice cookie (for me to enjoy while everyone else is gobbling up cakes and pies at Christmas dinner) and headed back up the hill for home.

As I said earlier, I just hate to shop, but I have to admit, I might just need to adjust my attitude a bit. It was a wonderful morning - the air was crisp and cool, the sun was bright and warm, the walk was invigorating, and my faith in the buy-local movement is strong. Buying local means personal attention, knowledgeable staff, relaxing atmosphere, an enjoyable experience, and three times the amount of money that stays in the community vs. buying at a big-box store. If you're going to make a new years resolution this year, help keep our local communities alive and vibrant and buy local!

Thanks to all those local Aptos businesses who made my shopping day a delight!


68 comments:

Krista said...

That sounds like so much fun! I wish I could get personally assessed for shoes, I have an interesting way of walking.

Heather @ SGF said...

It was a really different experience. The owner said there were other "Fleet Feet" in the country although they are all independently owned so I don't know if they all give the same service, but you could see if there was one anywhere near you. Or of course you could plan your next vacation at the beach here in Aptos/Santa Cruz. That's what I'll do for a new pair of shoes each year :)

dogear6 said...

One of our favorite memories was buying hiking boots locally and meeting the store owners Vizsla. We owned one also, so spent time petting it and talking to it.

When it came time to try on the boots, the dog came and sat in our lap! A 50 pound lap dog is a bit much, but it sure made for a lot of laughter with us and the other customers.

Of course, then we had to go to the Internet and show them our dog on the doggie cam at doggie daycare.

Heather @ SGF said...

dogear6 - What a great story! Not something that would ever happen in a big-box. Gotta love shopping local - always with that special touch! :)

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