“Oh no! The ferries are slow! And the container ships are backed up in the harbor! How can we go shopping when the shipping is having such a hard time?” Uh, by shopping on the island, perhaps? Let’s see what’s available by building a small list.
Yes, it is that time of year that encourages folks who like malls to travel to the mainland, and people on the mainland travel to the island to buy presents that are more personal. The Big Boats In The Backyard are an obvious reminder that the supply chain is bottled up. Presents destined for malls are sitting in containers on ships waiting to find a harbor that will let them unload. Less of a reason to head to the mall, eh? More of a reason to shop local.
Shop local. Skip the massive parking lots, road rage, stocks of stuff you can probably find online anyway, and all of that travel.
Shop local and skip the rock and roll ride of a ferry trying to dance across waves then docking without hitting anything. (But if you must go, set your car’s parking brake and turn off the car alarm.)
Buy from the person who made it, and watch the profits go to a person instead of a corporation.
But is staying on the island limiting?
Something To Drink
Coffee isn’t grown here, but there are more than enough folks who care about roasting the beans right. Or, buy a gift card so your friend can get their commuter mug filled.
Wine goes with books – and so much else. Whether from grapes grown here or from over the mountains, several wineries are ready to help you decide on a bottle or a case, and maybe get a discount.
Beer? Duh. Brewpubs stretch from the north to the south ends of the island. Don’t want to buy them beer now that will stale by then? Buy them a growler that they can fill later. Don’t worry if you don’t know what a growler is. Beer lovers will.
Liquor is here, too. Distillers and mixers are busy bottling something a bit stronger than beer and wine. It’s also the season for hot toddies, the drink.
As for marijuana, well, there’s a lot to choose from, too. It isn’t just about joints and bongs, anymore. Want something to nibble?
Something To Eat
Everyone has to eat. Not everyone has to cook or clean. Whidbey has been known for its food culture. The restaurants are less likely to be a chain and more likely to be locally owner and operated, frequently by people who treat it as treat to cook. Thanks to the sad fact of the pandemic, it is also easier to get it delivered. They may not handle the cleaning, but you get to pick from your own beverages.
Foodies know that local has its own flavor. From vegan to carnivore to surf and turf there are farmers and ranchers who produce, well, produce and many of the things we cook and eat. It becomes easier to understand how and where our food comes from. It is hard to get fresher. It is easier to meet special needs and desires whether from choice for flavor or sustainability, or necessity for dietary requirements.
How about getting it delivered? Sign someone up for weekly or seasonal food deliveries. A box of produce on the doorstep saves a trip to the store, and may be healthier, too. Want specific cuts of meat and have a big enough freezer? That can happen, too.
The really curious and industrious could probably also find classes in how to grow plants, raise animals, as well as do things like wild forage for mushrooms or sea vegetables.
There are hundreds of authors, several bookstores, and a few places where you can buy rare originals. Buy directly from an author or an independent bookstore and have a better chance of getting a signed copy. (You can even listen to a few of them on a local blog/podcast, WritingOnWhidbeyIsland.com)
Photos and paintings, something for the wall. Cruise the local galleries and studios to find things to frame (or already done) from artists that specialize in the area, have a unique style, and may already be known far beyond the island. Don’t see what you want? Custom orders and commissions happen. Pet portraits, anyone?
Go 3-D with sculptures in glass, bronze, ceramic, heavy metal, mixed media, and found objects – and more, undoubtedly. These things may never be in a mall because they can’t be mass-produced. Want to find something useful? Go with functional art like kitchenware, house fixtures, garden art. No need to buy and give plastic.
Watch or listen or both. Tickets for performances and movies are easier to wrap. No worries about anything breaking or being too bulky to ship.
Whidbey is known as a tourist destination. People travel here from around the world. Help someone do the same, or help a local have a sweet staycation without having to worry about planes or trains or ships. Local vacations also let folks run back home for that forgotten outfit, or neglected chore, or to avoid a ‘Home Alone’ moment. Pet the dog.
For someone who wants to relax at home, maybe send over a housecleaning service, or have food delivered. Considering Whidbey, there are probably some musicians who can put on a show.
Maybe they want their house or car pampered too. People will clean yards. Others will detail cars. Sometimes these things get overlooked but are appreciated when someone else takes care of them.
See Whidbey from the water. Tours speed through the Pass and its tides and currents. The trip may be over quickly, the memories can last.
See the whales from the water. Whale watching tours look for greys and orcas (and the greys hope it isn’t at the same time.) And there are also several sizes of seals, humpbacks, fin whales, minkes – and even a rare occasional beluga.
See the whales from the land. Check the park in Langley, ring the bell if you see a whale, and then walk up to the Langley Whale Center to learn, but maybe to also shop.
There are also gardens and sculpture parks, sanctuaries and retreats, places protected by non-profits that probably wouldn’t turn down a donation.
Nature is beautiful and impressive – and sometimes the source of power outages. A generator isn’t exactly an elegant gift, but it can be very appreciated. A cord of firewood that’s already cut and stacked can feel decadent to someone with a woodstove or a wood-burning fireplace. It may be for ambience or necessity, and warming in any case.
Stranded by slow ferries or strong storms? Thinking shopping is only a small list? Not at all. Just another reason to spend more time on the island, maybe visiting nooks that have been overlooked.
PS Pardon the lack of links, but there are so many opportunities that it would be easier to load in the yellow pages – or suggest using the computer to search.