There is a lot of emphasis lately to buy local. This is a wonderful practice for many reasons. One reason that is sometimes overlooked is the element of experience. There are good shopping experiences and there are bad shopping experiences. This is well documented in Facebook rants from the angry shoppers of Wal-Mart and Macy’s. Poor customer service, creaky carts, and horrendous lighting are a few things that make complainers’ lists.
Then we stopped in Harriet’s Knit Knook for the first time and met Harriet. She introduced herself to us and encouraged my 4-year-old, a budding crocheter. She invited me to her knitting group and explained some different types of hooks to me. In both of these stores, I felt refreshed to be simply informed about the products, which were presented without any kind of puffery or gimmick-y pitches. At this time of year, I think we’ve all seen and heard enough gimmick-y pitches.
We then strolled to The Blue Cerebus to buy a treat for our neighbor’s dog. This store offered a fruit-infused lager to sample. It was not for sale, but it was a nice refreshment to sip while the sales clerk answered all of my daughter’s questions about the dog treats, which look like real cookies!
Following that lovely visit, we entered Gallery 115 where my daughter was given a goody-bag, a cake pop, and the opportunity to make some of her own art on their kid’s-level chalkboard. Artist Eric Phagan was upstairs painting a commissioned piece and stopped to chat and help us choose some gift ornaments.
By the time we made our way home, I felt more like I had been out visiting friends than shopping. Shopping can sometimes feel like more work than anything, but on Main Street in Madison, it’s all about the conversations, the generosity, and the overall experience.