All of us at the Journal of the San Juans wish you a joyous holiday season. We hope you enjoy well-deserved time with loved ones and avoid the anxiety that the holidays can sometimes bring.
One way we have learned to shake the stress is to shop locally. Skip a trip to the mainland for crowded parking lots and long lines, where often the money you think you save by leaving the island is lost on ferry and gas fees. Instead, this holiday season, support your friends and neighbors by purchasing exclusive, quality items that embody the local culture while helping the islands’ residents.
According to the American Independent Business Alliance, about 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses is recirculated locally. That means the money you spend on the islands helps your neighbors secure items like the down payment on their first home, summer camp for their children or the first class of their college career.
In addition to shopping at local stores, there are opportunities to check out wares from island artisans. According to the San Juan Islands Arts Council, the islands often have double the art sales per capita of King County, which has approximately 2 million more residents than our county.
Up to 50 regional vendors will set up shop from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1 in the main building at the San Juan County Fairgrounds for a flea and craft market. It has popped up on the island every December for roughly the past decade to give residents a garage-sale alternative during the winter, for those “new-to-me” holiday gifts. Vendors can be from the islands or even nearby mainland cities like Anacortes. Merchants include the local public school’s senior class to sell holiday wreaths and the local 4-H to sell baked goods. Local artists will also jewelry, clothing, housewares, ornaments, journals, soaps and more. This year, the island’s American Legion Auxillary will also serve food from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Give a gift that supports the local library this holiday season at the annual Friends of the Library Holiday Book and Gift Sale from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1 at the San Juan Island Library on Guard Street. Items for sale include books, jewelry, CDs, DVDs and books on tape. There will also be a silent auction.
Jump into the Christmas spirit with a European-style market from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8 at Brickworks in Friday Harbor. Peruse items such as wreaths, cookies, jewelry, handbags, wooden spoons and fine art, as local musicians play in the background. This third annual event was launched to re-enact the Christmas markets of northern Europe’s past. Attendees can join Santa for hayrides through town and kids can go on pony rides.
Whether you are buying for those near or far, source a local gift to give a piece of the San Juans to friends and family this holiday season. Your loved ones will thank you, and so will your neighbor.